I wrote recently on an unexpected byproduct of collaboration: Fun. But that fun isn’t always something that just happens, it is something that is cultivated. To cultivate collaboration and have a byproduct of fun, there were a few aspects set in place between my co-worker and I that brought that fun about! Many of these aspects are personality traits, but I think they are needed for most collaboration to be beneficial and fun.
You have to get rid of your inhibitions in true collaboration. For the fun to happen, and real collaboration to take place you can’t be wrapped up in your self. You can’t be self-conscious. There is no way to have a true collaborative spirit if you can’t be relaxed in who you are, and be natural. With those I am truly collaborative with, there has never been a sense of competition, but a sense of working toward a common goal. Everything is open and there is no restrictive feelings.
In any collaborative venture that is fun, there is a sense of risk taking. That risk is partly because you see the big picture and are willing to shoot for the moon while still gazing at the stars. There have already been volumes written on taking risks, but when you are taking them within a collaborative mindset there is always somebody else to buffer the success and failures. Risk taking becomes fun because of the collaborative environment.
There has to be a big picture for the fun to start. You see it is the big picture that we, in our collaboration, are aiming for. Having fun seeing the pieces come together, starting to see the vision come to be, and sharing that with your collaborators is what is fun. Again sharing in the failures and success as the vision comes closer to be.
Agreed upon Mission
The mission is how we get to the vision. The mission is the particular steps that will be taken, the HOW TO part. Whenever there is a conflict that arise within our collaborative ventures, we step back and look at the agreed upon mission. The mission holds us together. We already agreed upon this mission and we can now rest in the fun of following it through. Having the mission keeps us focused on achieving the vision.
Lunch (something not work related yet sharing life together)
For me (us) one of the biggest things that makes collaboration fun is discussing Life, The Universe, and Everything (yes we have discussed Douglas Adams too). We spend a lot of time at lunch talking about things that have nothing to do with Educational Technology. It is in these moments of discussing the Bob’s (Dylan and Marley) when we often times find answers that have plagued us. It is in the fun of discussing Doctor Who when we learn about each other and how we can communicate better with each other. You see, that is key, communication. In any relationship Communication is most important, and building a friendship over lunch (hundreds of lunches) allows for our collaboration to be that much more fun.
Finally there needs to be compromise. If there is not compromise then there can not be collaboration. I have to remind myself of this often. I have these ideas, and I think I know how they should be, but often times I have “missed” some pieces, or not seen an aspect that my collaborator has. I need to be willing, from the onset, to allow my ideas to be compromised, and hopefully made better! In compromise, a complete vision will come to be. Collaboration is a lot of give and take. If there isn’t both then there is no collaboration. If all you do is GIVE and get nothing in return time and time again, you are not collaborating. If all you do is receive and never give, the same is true. The willingness to compromise is key to collaboration.Fun has been an unexpected byproduct of collaboration, but it didn’t come by chance. It came by having a vision and shared mission. The collaboration was built upon many lunches where we allowed our real selves to show, our real lives with all our frailties. Through risk taking and compromise our collaborations have been made better and ultimately more fun!
Note: It goes without saying that I am indebted to my closest collaborator Jacob Standish. Without his collaboration and commitment to all these things, our success (and failures) wouldn’t be nearly as fun as they have been.