Do You Have a Collaborative Team?

Video Transcript:

People throw around the word collaboration or the phrase “win-win”, but what does that really mean? I hear teams that I work with that say they collaborate all of the time and they self-describe themselves as a collaborative team. Yet, when I facilitate meetings with these same groups, I notice that their behavior doesn’t always look like collaboration.

According to, collaboration is a cooperative arrangement in which two or more work jointly towards a common goal. So, let’s break this down a bit. In order to collaborate, you have to be working toward a common goal. This is the first place to start. At the beginning of a meeting it may be helpful to ask for clarity or to remind everyone what the common goal is. If it’s not clearly understood, then it would be difficult for people to truly collaborate in a meaningful way. Even if the group does understand and agree on the common goal, when you put individuals together who lead different departments or areas they likely have different priorities and agendas.

This is where it can get a little bit sticky. The reality is, it’s difficult to put aside what is best for you and your team, and instead consider what is best for the whole group. So this could mean advocating for something that could maybe cause more work for you personally or put additional strain on your department, but you know that it will make the organization stronger or better in some way.

To help facilitate this type of mindset, it might be helpful for the group members to reflect and consider three different perspectives. Consider what would be the best outcome for the organization, its people and its customers respectively. Then focus on finding the right balance between those three perspectives and creating a solution that meets the needs of all three. When you accomplish this, you have truly discovered a win-win situation. Does your team need to reconsider what it means to be collaborative?

What are you going to do?

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