Successful Collaboration

In the world of business, you are likely to have to collaborate with people from different teams, departments or organisations. Sometimes it’ll go really well, but sometimes it’ll fail to achieve the results you were aiming for.

One of the best ways to ensure a great collaboration is to make sure that the way different parties are being measured and incentivised aligns with the goals of the collaboration.

If one of the parties is measured on clients gained, but another is measured by profit made, then they will likely be pulling in different directions. If one considers themselves successful by solving a pressing tactical issue, but the other looks to a strategic resolution, then it will again be a source of tension in the collaboration.

This get even worse if the people involved are not clear what their end goals are. If everyone is seeming to pull towards one outcome, but one party has an unclear or hidden contradicting goal, then this will poison the collaboration from the start.

The simplest solution to this problem is to be crystal clear about your goals, and to secure that clarity from the other party. You can then look at where there is overlap, where there is difference and where there is contradiction.

If the goals are closely aligned, then you are more likely to have a great collaboration. If they are slightly different, then you may be able to agree a shared measure of success that suits all parties. You may be able to align on new clients who are profitable, rather than a total focus on one or the other.

If the goals are totally divergent, then you are better placed killing off the collaboration early. It’s better to put resources and effort towards initiatives with the best chance of success, rather than forcing something that’s likely to fail because some of the people involved are actively rewarded with its failure.

Once you’ve aligned, record the agreement and share it far and wide with any stakeholders in the outcome to the collaboration. The public commitment to the agreed outcomes ties all parties to the success of the initiative. You can confirm that every party will be measured on the success of the overall collaboration.

If everyone involved has the same definition of success, if they publicly agree on that definition and if they are measured and incentivised towards that outcome, you’ve got a great starting point and a high chance of a successful collaboration.

If you don’t have that agreement, you are doomed to fail.

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