How Can We Encourage Collaboration?

There is something very primal about working together with others. Collaboration on a project can be rewarding in ways that working in isolation isn’t.

In the music industry, it is very common for musical artists to collaborate. Whether it is a musician playing on a track, two singers performing a duet, or a producer mixing an entire album, collaboration is frequent.

Unfortunately, in other walks of life working together is less common. There are many reasons why that may be. For instance, co-workers might be competing for the same promotion and so they have no motive to work together. Or it may not be obvious how two disparate jobs could collaborate on a single project.

But more often, the concept of a joint effort simply doesn’t occur to people. If you meet someone socially at a party, for example, you may not give any thought to their job or how you might collaborate together.

How might that change? Would if be possible to view another person, and the expertise they have, as an opportunity to make something that neither could make independently? How can we encourage collaboration?

Related questions: Where do shared ideas exist? What do we have in common? What makes a community? Alone or together?

1 thought on “How Can We Encourage Collaboration?”

  1. One of the best ways to encourage collaboration is, saying it quite plainly, to collaborate. It’s usually worth it. Collaborating can, in many cases, increase your power while reducing your workload.

    Another way to encourage collaboration is to share some of the powerful and/or fun stories of when you’ve successfully done so. For instance:

    – As a part of my work at the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, I joined forces with homeless communities across the state to be a part of registering and turning out hundreds of homeless folks to vote.
    – In my work at Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, I organized with leaders at nearly 20 congregations to mobilize roughly 2500 congregants in the successful push for $100 million for affordable housing.
    – I’ve tapped into the talents and creativity of scores of interns over the years to successfully fight for more affordable housing, work toward ending homelessness, and push for increased tenants’ rights.
    – I’ve swapped advice with internet friends about how to grow certain veggies in my garden.
    – I’ve teamed up with a small group of my neighbors to can veggies and jams.
    – Lee Urton and I collaborate weekly to come up with the topics for Intellectual Roundtable.
    – I’ve even collaborated with Ben Weiss (a sometimes contributor to this blog) to to re-write an Indigo Girls’ song so that it would convey anger about the Bush – Quayle Administration.

    Here ’s an idea I just came up with to encourage more collaboration: If you are in a small group, ask each person how they could collaborate with someone else at the gathering to accomplish more than they could do themselves.

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