Collaboration is getting a lot of attention these days, especially because of today’s competitive business environment and the speed of change in the marketplace. Teaming up with another person, group of persons, or business entity in a joint venture is one of the most powerful ways to enhance success. It can increase market presence, and expand both profits and influence. Successful collaboration can also be challenging. It requires horizontal cooperation versus vertical leadership. This means all parties must establish the level of trust required to move forward toward a common goal.
I began dialogue with two colleagues, Mary Lou Kayser, and Holli Rovenger about a year ago. In July 2012 we met and planned a Joint Venture called Publish Promote Profit. The team of Publish Promote Profit initially came together with a finite goal of creating a program that combined our areas of expertise and experience to serve business professionals and entrepreneurs who wanted to write a book to grow their business. What has developed since that initial conversation is the completion of 90 Day Bookcamp™ 101, a comprehensive 3 track program that met that goal. Additionally, we launched Jump Start Your First Book, a course that helps the beginning writer get a book organized and started fast. All this was completed in 9 months.
Was it easy? No! But the life lessons, personal growth, and creative innovation of working in sync have been worth the effort. So, what has made it work for us?
3 Keys to Successful Collaboration
We started with a shared project vision and agreement of what each person would bring in resources and expertise. It took a couple of months to develop, but once roles and responsibilities were clearly defined it was easier to move forward. The challenges came when trust broke down. That was usually the result of tight deadlines that hindered communication. Additionally, a tight budget limited outsourcing. After confronting those initial barriers, what we found worked was:
- Meeting as a team on Skype no less than 3 times a week for 60-90 minute strategy and work sessions. There is nothing as effective as live masterminding and brainstorming as a team. Text and email is not the way to communicate big ideas as you’re getting a project started.
- Setting up Base Camp for additional communication, task delegation and document sharing for specific segments of the project. When implemented, this one step to replace emails created a huge leap in productivity and organization.
- Listening to what all parties need. Support, validation, and shared involvement in various aspects of the project development were important to our team. When needs are heard and met, creativity, innovation and trust peaks.
- Immediately addressing the issues as they come up (and they will). By openly sharing the problem or circumstance and discussing it until there is resolution, forward movement remains intact, and productivity is not hindered.
Any time you have 2 or more independently minded people working on a joint venture, there will be differing opinions. We also had varied work styles, and diverse personalities to adjust to. Problems will arise and resolutions must be reached. This leads to the second key in the 3 keys to successful collaboration…
Successful collaboration is achieved when all parties are willing to set aside ego, the need to be right, and trust issues to find the middle ground of agreement. Every person involved must be willing to share their resources for mutual benefit. Collaboration is no place for a self-serving attitude, divergent goals, or closely held secrets. If motives are questioned, values not shared, and mutual trust is not present, the joint venture is destined to fail. Reaching compromise on the big, but also the smallest, parts of the project is what keeps momentum going. Just one issue where the parties fail to agree can stop the project completely, or destroy trust and set back completion of a key task.
There are times in any collaborative project when communication and compromise become difficult. The next key is what determines whether a joint venture will last.
For a joint venture to reach its goals every party has to make a 100% commitment to the team. Successful collaboration happens when each party is confident in each others role. There must be a willingness to go the distance even when challenges arise. Security is knowing each team member “has each others back”. When personalities clash, personal circumstances get in the way, compromises are difficult to negotiate, and communication breaks down, it means that you don’t give up no matter what.
Iron sharpens iron. In the same way successful collaboration sharpens relationships, refines expertise, and enhances the speed of completion. The result is a finished product that brings the best of what only the cooperative effort of a team can produce.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and we look forward to bringing our best to you!
Have you ever participated in a joint venture? What worked or didn’t work for you? Is collaboration something you’d consider for future business projects? Please share by leaving a comment below.