“I loved making a decision by myself!” is the first thing I heard when Susan stepped away from the completed canvas. The second thing I heard was from Todd; a loud, unmistakable, “ugh.” Todd rolled his eyes and then smiled because it was just ‘so Susan.’ Apparently, she had to ask everyone’s opinion before she could settle down and get some work done, get dressed for a party, or decide what to order for supplies. Todd, on the other hand, didn’t need opinions; he just wanted to get some work done and often went his own way and avoided Susan with her endless neediness.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? There is an art to collaboration and few people are artists, which is why Canvas Creek Team Building actually uses art for their premier event. When people step to the canvas, 95% of them have no interest in painting, no idea what they are going to do, and no reason to become engaged in the process other than the directive “you will be there at 9am” from their boss. They come with reluctance, much like Todd when entering a conversation with Susan.
It’s what happens in the next few minutes that is important. After beginning the task, participants act in a completely singular fashion until they realize, often with baffling surprise that others could help them complete the task. They wrestle with this idea for a while then they begin to work together, leaning on each other, supporting each other and finally presenting a completed piece of art they are truly proud of.
This is exactly what is needed in the development of an energy frontier: the act of recognizing others are available with expertise, complimentary abilities and an eye on collaboration. Collaboration is not the act of indecision or ram rodding an idea, it is the display of ideas, the collective wisdom of those gathered together and the delightful moment when everything comes together for a win that each person has a stake in and can be proud of. So, how can collaboration be accomplished?
1. Look at the possibilities-what could be accomplished if you had a bigger team, more players or a different skill set.
2. Know what you do, and what you offer.
3. Listen to what others do, what they offer.
4. Give up ‘ownership’. When collaborating, it does not matter who came up with the idea or who will get the credit. You must know that when everyone participating in the process wins, you also win. There are few things in this world that are so specific that only you can do them. Embrace that. Help others and they will help you.
5. Move; get out of the way. Collaboration moves fast and it gets things done. Don’t stand in the way with “it’s not how we do things” or “oh gosh, I don’t know.” Jump in and see what can happen and trust the collective knowledge…or don’t play the game.
6. Appreciate others. Share applause. Know that together you are accomplishing what you could not have done alone, whether a multi- billion dollar company or a start -up, say “Thank you for your help,” and mean it. You are collaborating and it feels good.
If you and the people you are collaborating with would like a dose of creative juices (a jump start to your collective success), try jumping into Canvas Creek. Like a splash of cold water it will refresh you, energize you and teach you the art of collaboration.