Marcia Conner

What does collaboration mean to you?

What does collaboration mean to you?

What does collaboration mean to you?

Buzzword bingo has a new term: Collaboration.

For some it means adding your two cents to a meeting agenda. For other it means providing a foothold and working together to climb high and see wide.

If we are to collaborate with one another we ought to find–create–some common language and bases from which to build.

Tell me what you think. What you’ve experienced. How you see it work.


Push beyond the cliches and share in the comments here or on Twitter what you think so we can grow something more.

So far I’ve heard from a simple tweet I sent:

“1st, listening.”

“We work together and come up with more than we would have individually with minimal drama & overlap.”

“The art of getting people to do what you want them to do without actually doing anything yourself.”

Look forward to hearing from you, learning from you, and dare I say collaborating with you.


[photo credit: Communication, John M Mas]


  • Michelle

    Collaboration implies that there is a select group of people, each of whom have a particular piece of knowledge or skill to contribute. So get the right people first.

    People have to contribute, and others have to open-mindedly listen and consider inputs. Trust and listening are key.

    Brainstorming or some other means of generating and documenting ideas is important. Consider every possibility, no matter how far-fetched. Build on others’ ideas.

    Agree to “live with” if not outright love whatever solution the group decides upon. Support it actively, monitor and measure it’s impact.

    Reconvene as necessary.

    Oh, and it’s really not that easy!

  • Collaboration = Multidisciplinary, trusted, responsive, reciprocal investments (and commitments) of time, energy and resources in the collective pursuit of a solution (and strong working relationship).

  • Collaboration comes from two Latin words com- (“with”) and labore (“to work”). It literally means “work with.” Collaborate implies “working together on a project or problem.” In academic settings, collaborate includes the nuance that all parties will receive joint attribution for completed work.

    I think collaboration is two or more people with shared goals working together to complete a task, project or problem.

    Here’s the question I have: What are the defining principles of a collaborative process?

  • Maritza van den Heuvel

    For me the core of a collaborative culture is one where it’s not only okay to be wrong, but encouraged. Instead of holding onto your ideas, share them in early concept form with key people who can show flaws in your thinking. By the time a proposal is on the table, it’s much more likely to be successful, because you’re already covering the bases.

    But this way of operating demands courage from individuals and an ability to accept constructive criticism. This is still lacking in many traditional command-and-control environments.

  • Haven’t thought this through fully, but off the cuff: There are two dimensions at play here, both of which should be depicted as sliding scales: Informal to formal, and tactical to strategic.

    We collaborate informally (in an organizational setting) all the time. No one tells us to, we have no need to set the “rules of engagement”, and it takes little time and effort to decide to collaborate.

    At the other end of the spectrum is formal collaboration, where we explicitly agree to collaborate someone else or some other firm, we decide on the rules of engagement, the time frames, the expected contributions, results, etc.

    We can also collaborate on very tactical things, down to specific tasks. Customer service and marketing may collaborate to resolve certain customer requests. At the other end of the spectrum, customer service and marketing may collaborate to develop completely new capabilities.

    The “the defining principles of a collaborative process” need to be thought of in the context of these two dimensions.

    BTW, I really liked

  • In short, collaboration to me is – You work toward a common goal, and whatever you produce or do reflects on all of you equally. You win together, or loose together.

  • Collaboration means to me:

    Working towards a shared creative purpose by …

    … building on each others strengths and contributions and

    … forgiving “learned failure”

    (Lack of forgiveness and grace towards good-will contributions and critiqued failure is against the creative spirit.
    Outright incompetence & non-critiqued failure is against the creative purpose.

  • It means ROCKING OUT and making AWESOME with BADASS people. Or at least it should. :)

  • At the Interaction Institute we talk about approaching the process of collaboration – people working together – through three lenses:

    1. Power, Equity and Inclusion
    2. Networks
    3. Love

    More here:

  • It’s the best kind of social intercourse …where minds meld and all the synapses are focused on creatively solving whatever is being focused upon … or whatever serendipitously appears on the collaborative radar screen … it’s a team sport of the mind when everyone is in the zone … it’s Us against The New Thing … great collaboration leaves you feeling like you just had the best sex in your life …

  • It is a process whereby a number of people is willing to devote significant effort in order to develop and grow mutual Trust to such an extent that all share energy, time, skills, resources in order to achieve goals that would not be accessible for any one by himself/herself.
    Trust is key, and everyone is to nurture and grow It among (would be)collaborators.

    This is the idea of collaboration I am focusing at the moment (I am in the middle of an effort in order to support collaboration among small/medium enterprises.)

  • I like to keep things simple:
    Collaboration is when two or more people work together to get something done.

    Everything else is sideshow.

  • Donna

    You may not agree with me but many people are Uninterested in a social revolution and see collaboration as a loss of control. They are skeptical and like the status quo.

  • Collaboration is helping to put 2 and 2 together to make at least 5 when the first 2 and the second 2 aren’t yours.

Let’s connect!

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