Why Your Assumptions About Collaboration Are Wrong

This is a topic almost every social entrepreneur views as being extremely important.  BUT, it’s also a topic many people struggle with.  What is it?

COLLABORATION!

As you most likely know from first hand experience, collaboration is often much easier said than done.  You might even know this from first hand experience!

I believe that social entrepreneurs (impact entrepreneurs, Changemakers, etc) all have a responsibility to try and make collaboration work.

Because when it works, there is the opportunity to have a much greater impact around the world than you could possibly imagine.

The scale and complexity of social issues at hand are SO large, that no one person or organization can possibly do it on their own. We all understand that — and yet it’s so difficult to form partnerships and collaboration opportunities that seem to work.

Moving the needle on some of these really tough issues needs us to build our skills on how to cooperate and collaborate, and get better at it so that we can tackle these really hard, complex problems. Although you might agree that collaboration is our secret weapon as social entrepreneurs, you probably have some doubts about how to actually do it well and make it work.

You might even been thinking, “Danielle, I’ve tried it – its waaaaay to hard, and it’s simply not worth it!”.

Let’s tackle some of those doubts:

Myth #1: When you approach collaboration strategically, it makes your work easier, and not harder.

That’s because you can stick to your strengths as an entrepreneur and a Changemaker.  As the old saying goes: “jack of all trades, master of none”.

As you wear many hats in your role as a Changemaker, as I’m sure you have experienced, it’s a lot tougher to be really good at all of those tasks. The beauty of collaboration is that you can find partners who each have different strengths from you. You can come together as a team, even though you are not a formal team, and you can create opportunities to build off each others’ strengths.

There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing someone else create something you know you wouldn’t have been able to do as well as they did, and have them contribute that to your goal!

Myth #2: Collaboration is simply not effective.

When you think of collaboration you might be thinking that it takes way more time than it saves. And that in the end, it is not even worth trying.

I would argue that, when you approach collaboration with a plan, it helps you grow your impact even more than you could on your own.

The reason for this is that collaboration helps you deliver value and approach your work in ways you might not even be able to imagine on your own. That’s because every individual or organization you might be working with brings their very own unique skills, insight and background to the table.

When you’re sitting down to solve a problem together, you will have a much more varied perspective in terms of tackling that problem in ways you could not imagine on your own. Working with individuals from diverse perspectives brings you the opportunity to see problems through new eyes, and listen to brand new ways of approaching challenges.

Working with new people — and asking different questions — will bring you to potentially different outcomes. That’s the wonderful thing about collaboration!

In the end, instead of collaboration bring ineffective, it allows you to accomplish so much MORE in LESS time.

Another reason for this is that collaborating is a unique way to grow your team without hiring staff or contractors. This means you can grow the productive hours of what is being contributed to your cause without spending any money. You can choose to partner with individuals or organizations with aligned goals, and who are working towards a complementary vision to what you are.  This way, you can harness extra work time and effort and leverage that towards advancing your goals.

So it allows you to do more with less.  In the very definition, entrepreneurs work with scarce resources — meaning they work with limited time and limited money. If you can find creative ways to leverage your own time and money in a way that creates more impact and generates more work than you could do on your own, then that will move you towards your goals even faster!

Myth #3: Collaboration means you have to compromise.

You might feel like collaborating means you have to completely eliminate your ability to have decision making control about how things are going to go.

But guess what?

When you approach collaboration strategically and with a plan — you don’t have to compromise!  It’s possible to have a very productive and meaningful partnership and collaboration AND not have to compromise on how you see things going.

Here’s how:

When you take the time to become crystal clear on what you are looking for in a partner and what gaps you see that need filling, and then (only then!) approach finding your partner strategically with that in mind — that’s when you find collaborations where you don’t have to compromise.

That’s the secret!  The reason is then collaboration is not a haphazard, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, “you seem cool, lets work together…” project.  If you do it that way – then yes – you will find yourself in situations where you do need to compromise and it might feel like you are not being true to the vision that you have…  You might have an internal struggle on how to handle to that.

But, on the flip size, if you approach collaboration with a plan, and it’s not haphazard, then the need for compromise in collaboration will go down drastically.

Then it will feel great knowing you found a partnership that will move your social impact project forward!

Bottom line:

Hopefully exploring these collaborations myths has shed some light on doubts you have in mind about building effective collaborations and partnerships. When you approach collaboration with a plan, it can be effective for moving your goals forward, it can SAVE you time — not take MORE time — and best of all, you can form partnerships where you don’t need to compromise, and you all parties involved and feel good about working together and reaching your aligned goals!

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Meeting of the Minds

 

PS – If you are ready to grow your collaboration muscles, take a peek at this book:

Meeting of the Minds:
The Social Entrepreneur’s Roadmap
for Collaborations that Work

 

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