12 Steps to a Life of Extraordinary Collaboration

There is no shortage of big problems facing us today; in our communities, cities, globally!  These problems are complex.  There are many parts to the problem, and how all the parts connect together can be a mystery.  What the solution is, another mystery.

What to do?

Collaborate. (You knew I’d say that, right?) And, the bigger the problem, the bigger the collaboration effort needed.  It takes a system to change a system.  Forget the KISS principle.

And, as the scale of collaboration ramps up, we need to involve people with collaboration skills that match the context. Massive collaboration calls for people with massive collaboration skills; extraordinary skills that go way beyond the ordinary.

I got to thinking about extraordinary collaboration, on reading Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken, in which she explores the positive potential of games and virtual collaboration.  I tip my hat to my creative conflict resolution colleague, Stephanie West Allen (@idealawg on Twitter, blogs at Brains on Purpose), for pointing me to Jane’s work.

12 Steps

What are the personal skills associated with extraordinary collaboration? How about these:

  1. Believe in collaboration; in creating something new, that would be impossible to create alone.  Collaboration is a generative act.
  2. Learn collaboration; think and act collaboratively. (Collaborative Maxims can be your guide)
  3. Get social, in a networked environment; we are all connected, “be an extrovert in the virtual world”, its a godsend of opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert in face-to-face settings.
  4. Make connections, of all sorts; making connections is at the heart of bridging differences, creating the new, innovation
  5. Develop your internal “collaboration radar”; ask yourself – who will make “the best collaborators on this particular task or mission”?
  6. See what’s emerging out of the chaos; even though the future is uncertain, hang tough with ambiguity, think systems, sense what’s just around the corner.
  7. Seek out collaborative work environments; ones in which you are motivated to participate fully, can self-direct, keep you intensely interested and enthusiastic, and where its ok to experiment.
  8. Expect a positive emotional payoff from collaboration; “work satisfaction, better hope of success, stronger social connectivity, more meaning” in your life.  Otherwise, its not working.
  9. Practise collaboration; long-term daily practice, of craft, is the path to mastery (and heck, maybe you’re already living with someone whose a collaboration master?, your son or daughter, who have spent 10,000+ hours playing collaborative video games).
  10. Experience collaboration, on a massive scale; big problems require big time collaboration; get comfortable with seeing things from “massively multiple points of view”.
  11. Co-create on an epic project; address a real world challenge, working on a “long-term” horizon of thinking, acting and collaborating”.
  12. Make the world a better place; collaborate for public good; contribute your extraordinariness to your communities, city, neighbourhood and family.

You want more?

I need your help, then.  What’s the essence of collaboration mastery for you?  What’s essential to a life of extraordinary collaboration?  Leave a comment.

Photo credit: Lemsipmatt (on Flickr)


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