Project Management

Collaboration: Requirements for Breakthrough Results

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

In September of 2009 in my article entitled “Collaboration – Let Me Count the Ways”, I defined collaboration as follows:

 “An intense commingling of ideas and inspiration shared by two or more people seeking to find solutions to specific challenges and goals that are innovative, practical and achievable within the framework of the organization/communities they serve.”

Seven years later, in 2016, I stand by that definition. For the record, this definition applies to collaborations that are focused on creating breakthrough solutions; needle-moving outcomes, not those of the casual kind. My rationale can be better understood by decomposing the definition around the four following themes:

  • Intense commingling of ideas: The commingling of ideas is essential to a successful collaboration. Being able to express ideas and concepts freely and knowing that they will be greeted with open minds makes the collaboration process work. Even better is when these ideas become building blocks, one atop the other. When this happens, inspiration flourishes.
  • Shared inspiration: When shared inspiration flourishes between two or more people, breakthroughs are achieved. The sum of the parts clearly exceeds what was possible as individuals. Time to solutions is compressed.
    • By way of an example, in the …

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