Thursday, June 6, 2013

The 6 C's of Collaboration

Every team desires collaboration. Every leader preaches collaboration. But the question remains, is collaboration more of a new buzzword in our work or truly an actual practice.

Below are the definitions of and synonyms for collaboration. What I found particularly interesting was the 2nd definition of collaboration. Collaboration is a product as the result of collaboration. To me that would be the pinnacle of collaboration. Obviously, there is a lot that must take place before a collaborative team can develop a collaborative product. 

What are the 6 Cs or the 6 Conditions necessary for a collaborative team to move to this level of interdependence?

Teams must be able to talk openly and honestly about the work that they must do to help kids. Without frequent and focused conversation, teams can't even begin their journey toward collaboration. Members must realize that conversation requires communication that is empathic in nature and supportive in posture. No conversation can exist without intentional listening, so teams rich in conversation don't just hear. They synthesize what each member is saying to ensure that collaboration can reach the deepest levels possible. 

As a result of frequent conversation and their ability to develop trust in one another, coherence in the team's work will emerge. The more clarity that exists in each team member's role, responsibilities, and expectations for contribution, the more coherent the team's thinking, planning and understanding will become. In other words, coherence is best described as logical and consistent interconnection between all members of the team and the daily work that they do. 

As trust and understanding emerge, collegiality becomes a norm of the collaborative process.  Collegiality can best be defined as the cooperative interaction among professionals. Before collegiality can begin to exist, team members must first view one another as professionals and second, depend on each member to possess and contribute specific levels of expertise necessary to make the team better. Without collegiality, collaboration is dead in the water. 

A necessary component of any growth process is conflict. To move from one place to another, friction must occur. Collaborative teams that move quickest realize that in order to minimize negative friction, members must respect one another's values, beliefs and experiences and not allow professional conflict to derail the creative process by becoming personal. Professional conflict is a requirement of the collaborative process, and through open and honest conversation and collegiality, professional disagreements are viewed as a vital component of the collaborative process. 

When one person controls the collaborative process, collaboration becomes null and void. Control on a collaborative team is shared by all. Norms for working together are developed collectively and enforcement of such norms is also viewed as the responsibility of all. Ultimately the buck has to stop with someone, the leader; however, when all team members are committed to the collaborative mission of the team, leaders rarely need to step in to take control. In essence, each member's commitment to the team's purpose and products demonstrates the team's level of shared control. 

Teams that celebrate together accelerate together. Teams that collaborate at the highest levels understand that they must celebrate every achievement, both big and small. But teams also understand that they must celebrate when they fail. Failure is a result of learning and experimentation. When someone fails, the team has the opportunity and obligation to learn from it. When teams engage in high caliber celebration, risk-taking flourishes and the fear factor dissipates. Finally, job satisfaction and commitment to the mission and vision of the campus accelerates when teams celebrate. 

So what do you think of the 6 C's of Collaboration?  Do you agree or disagree or better yet, do you have additional suggestions to add to the Conditions of Collaborative teams?

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