Tips for Successful Collaboration in an Office
Collaboration is a great tool for small businesses, freelancers and contractors alike. Using the ability to collaborate, either in space or craft, can make a product or personal skill set go from one dimensional to a full fledged marketable idea or team.
When to collaborate:
You're essentially hitching your trailer to someone else's wagon and you want to go through a few check points to make sure you're both headed in the same direction - and the outcome is equally (if not equal, then well defined) benefiting all parties involved.
Define your need for collaboration. Is your idea or skill set mature enough to offer in exchange for the opportunity you're presenting? If yes:
Is collaboration a good idea?
If yes, then I think Collaboration is a good idea. Be diligent in your communication, over communication never hurt collaboration. State and restate your goals and hopes for the partnership. Dream together about the process and outcome. Align your ideas with their ideas, offer your excitement and champion theirs. When a road block comes, (and they will) be clear. Don't aim to over-please or over-promise. Be concise about your involvement in the solution and offer support where needed. You're invested in the outcome so act like it, but don't shoulder the brunt of the pitfalls, either.
Collaboration is a great tool and I'm a huge fan. You can often get farther with a partner - using their megaphone to shout your excitement and being the cheer section from your own bleachers is a good idea no matter what's in it for you. You can further an idea with the help of collaborators, you can complete seemingly impossible tasks because of collaborators. You can think bigger, act faster, and deliver better.
How to collaborate and how to find out who else is interested in the same goals as you is just as important.
Getting along with your collaborators is essential, sure, but respecting them and the incubator of ideas between the parties involved is monumental. Collaboration often happens when one party has a big idea with no execution. A big dreamer with a detailed planner -this is a happy marriage of collaboration. But don't limit each party to their offered brilliance. A detailed team should also learn how to dream and shout excitement while a Big Idea think tank should learn the skills of organization and task orientation. You should all know how to network and should be equally connected to different circles that will, in the end, benefit from your collaboration.
In a nutshell, you need to play well with others and be good at sharing.
Napkin contracts are the stuff of legends, but I would highly recommend having a third party, with no vested interest, oversee a contractual obligation to the collaboration. Contracts with specified goals and consequences shows you're serious about the job at hand, that you respect all parties and ideas involved and, above all else, protecting the integrity of the individual entities is paramount to working with like-minded collaborators.
When you're free to take a risk inside the parameters of sharing secrets, contacts, and business plans - you're more likely to make that risk a reality.
Now go forth, court a prospective collaborator! Give a little to get a little and smile; you're about to do something truly amazing.