The Dynamic Duo: Collaboration and Chance

You know, collaboration as a good news story.  The real success stories of our time are about good collaboration: businesses, sports teams, political campaigns, causes…  1 + 1 > 2.  And yet, sometimes good collaboration isn’t enough for success. Sometimes you need chance on your side.  Think of Felix Baumgartner’s past weekend of incredibleness, that I (and you?) watched live!

How do we maximize our collaborative potential?

One way is increased collaboration.  By adding more voices and perspectives to our work, we are adding facets, multiple dimensions, rigour, and improving the success potential of our resolve.  You never know what will happen on the journey.  It’s better to maximize your chances for success, upfront.  Increased collaboration is “future worth”.  By analogy, think of the benefits of having a diversified investment portfolio, in an economic downturn!

A collaboration may not be what it appears.  We cannot predict the future.  Sometimes things happen unexpectedly, by chance. Chance is often the key to a successful outcome; an outcome precipitated by information revealed, a personal connection, an external event, the uncredited collaborator.

Chance is an unseen collaborator.  (Twyla Tharp, dance choreographer, in The Collaborative Habit)

To enter into a collaborative relationship is to relinquish individual control over outcomes, to welcome chance as part of the process, and to go with the flow.

Think of all those times you’ve entered into a collaborative venture, no matter if small or big, and where the outcome was uncertain.  You knew though that whatever came your way, you’d work through it together.  You started off in good faith, and you took a chance that you’d find your way to resolution.  And you did!  Certainly that’s the path I follow every time I enter the mediation room.

Order and Chaos

Here’s another way to look at the relationship between collaboration and chance.

We live in two worlds, order and chaos.  In the world of order we plan, reflect, and think about what to do next.  In the world of chaos things happen, we get things done, yet unpredictability persists.  In one world we like to think we are in control. In the other we mingle with increasing complexity, conflict, and uncertainty.

With increased collaboration we are better positioned, through our collective strength and diversity, to respond to whatever chaos throws our way.  Sometimes we should court serendipity, says Ben Casnocha. And anyways, success is random Kare Anderson reminds us.

There is no one way to resolution.  We collaborate to resolve our differences.  Yet, the true potential of our collaboration, its ultimate value, only reveals itself with time.

Focus on your future collaboration, now.  Serendipity comes to those who have done the work.

If you don’t leave something up to chance, you may not be realizing your collaborative potential.  Do you agree?

For a further look at the internal conflicts Baumgartner faced, check out Tammy Lenski’s latest post.

Image source: Red Bull Stratos

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