Collaboration is so liberating and inspiring to deliver value together. I have honestly never experienced so much collaboration as I do at Cazoo, which provides the best and most fun way of learning for me. It works when:
- there is an environment for pairing up with multiple different people across the business.
- it is a supported activity.
- people are willing to give their time.
- it is energising and your energy is adding up.
- there is a clear communication flow.
Whenever I felt good about a collab I could date it back to open and honest communication. It was also the result of thinking through what outcome we would like to achieve. I was fully aware of how much support I and the other people need. Moreover, we shared a similar level of motivation and engagement, which sparked the passion for delivering something together.
Some examples of this type of engagement could be preparing and then co-facilitating a workshop, putting some guidelines together to facilitate conversations or taking on a bigger initiative and advocating for it within the business. If I had to think about what is the recipe for success for me, I would highlight the points below:
- Prepare just enough.
- Start with brainstorming and some high-level designs.
- Agree what roles are needed, and who is going to do which part of the work.
- Think with the head of the participants: what their needs are.
- Try to list different scenarios and alternatives.
- Adapt while doing it, be flexible to change things around.
- Notice when you need extra support, involve even more people.
- Rest it and then have new ideas.
- Be aware of your own weaknesses and strengths, and be happy to communicate those to others.
- It cannot be forced! and going solo can be fine too.
- Discuss how you all would like this partnering up to make it work.
The meat of the collaboration
First, it is starting off with checking in on how we would like to be involved. One of us would draft a design or introduce the idea in mind. This might be followed up by getting some buy-in from others, validating the idea and finding some allies. Then, other people review it and give feedback. That will result in a valuable improvement to the original concept. After that, there is a final review, where minor changes can happen too. Finally, the last part of the planning process is discussing timing, facilitation, preferred method, and how support will be provided to each other.
While doing the actual work it is important to pay attention to the other collaborators and to offer help if necessary. If it is a workshop, communicating is useful in the background or during breaks. If it is another type of engagement regular check-ins can help. In addition, it is great to be always ready to adapt, if something does not go as planned. Changing the plan is cool and appreciated!
Reflection is essential to evaluate what worked and what did not work. In my experience, it is a valuable practice to talk about feelings without any judgement on how the whole process was for all of you involved. I also learnt to take time to celebrate the time together and provide feedback as timely and directly as possible. Furthermore, it is useful to agree on actions and to find owners to keep the momentum going.
In the future, I ensure that I am even more available to these opportunities because it helps growth. If someone needs support, I reach out and dedicate my time and the best of my support. I continue to be honest about my knowledge of the area, and we will get extra pair of eyes and hands if needed. I will pause and recognise if it does not work and reflect why it does not work
Please promote collaboration if you can at your organisation. It increased my motivation, and my energy was much more balanced throughout the process. Good luck!