written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Dana Williams
Some business owners and most people in general find collaboration incredibly challenging. Why? It requires them to assist and to obtain assistance from people over whom they have no formal authority. Collaboration requires a sense of letting go of control.
In addition, it can be challenging to not only navigate the pitfalls of working with other individuals or groups; but, also to find the right tools for collaborating successfully.
Thus, when creating strategic partnerships, it is important for everyone to identify and discuss expectations, tasks, and objectives early on. To ensure accountability, it is recommended that you document each respectively—as well as any changes as they occur. If an agreement cannot be reached, it should be identified as an area of high risk in your planning.
Failure to agree on specific tasks is a source of a great contention between people—especially during times of tight resources. Any conflicts that arise during implementation need to be surfaced immediately in order to keep action plans on course.
Kaizen and Collaboration
In order to keep action plans on course, it is important to implement the idea of continuous improvement, coined by the Japanese automaker Toyota.
Synergy between partners is achieved through a stringent planning process—by delegating critical tasks, obtaining a group consensus on actions plans, and then assigning resources. Discipline (also known as Tapas in Yogic philosophy) is indeed required to constantly review and assess progress.
- Check in informally: Stay close to the implementation and proactively uncover any issues or road blocks by asking questions such as: Are people getting the resources they need and what is prohibiting progress?
- Report regularly: Weekly or monthly reporting on the status of action plans is another method for tracking progress. Continuous and consistent status should be provided throughout the process. And, there are tons of new tools available to do this efficiently. But, it is important to ensure everyone has access to the information and make progress visible to all:
- What the unit has and has not accomplished
- Key issues or problems that need resolution
- Decisions or resources they need to move forward
- Performance to objectives, when relevant
Tools To Help You along the Way
This website is an excellent resource for finding tools to collaborate. You will find a variety of tools that help you do everything from scheduling meetings, sharing documents, and creating chat rooms. It is updated monthly, so expect to see the newest (and sometimes weirdest) trends!
Even the most carefully thought-out action plans can become derailed. Whichever the cause, misalignment and derailment are key issues that need to be aired and addressed often.
Misalignment and derailment can happen for a number of reasons:
- Plans are expanded or constrained: During execution of action plans, a project may change in scope. Spending time reacting to these changes then cuts into the resources intended to carry out the original plan.
- Resources are inadequate: Its human nature to sometimes bite off more than we can chew. This may be a result of inaccurate upfront resource estimates, an unexpected change in project scope, or competing priorities.
- Things change: A group that you depend on may alter its own plans and therefore not be able to fulfill its obligations. In many cases this occurs because someone else has failed to free up the needed resources.
- Politics interfere with progress: A project may run into “political blockage”—people who didn’t buy into a priority issue fail to be responsive, causing delays and complications.
Whatever the cause, some degree of misalignment is virtually unavoidable. After all, it’s impossible to foresee with certainty what the future holds. Often, only by putting a plan into action can the requirements truly be defined. Be flexible with your plans and learn from new information and/or surprises as you receive them.
I’m Not Giving Up. I’m Just Giving In.
Finally, giving up control sometimes is easier said than done. We all struggle with it and by learning to let go of attachment, we can find peace with however the endeavor turns out.
Surrender to a divine power: This idea in Yoga is known as Ishvara pranidhana. Try to from an attitude of letting go and surrendering to a higher power, creative cause, or teacher.
Practice satya by being honest with yourself: With empathy and honesty, take a look at where, how, and why you hold on to control. Consider the costs to your health and quality of life and also how it impacts those around you.
Ask for help: Garnering the right support is one of the most important and sometimes challenging aspects of giving up control. Many of us do not feel comfortable asking for help thinking it makes us appear incompetent; yet conversely, we enjoy helping others.
In what way can you find a better way to connect with colleagues and is there one area in your life where you could improve by letting go of a situation or outcome?