Throughout my life – from childhood play to a career in the private sector to public office and beyond – I have not found a single instance of success where collaboration and partnership was not a central tenet and crucial for victory. There is a reason that clichés and adages abound, discussing the merits of strength in unity and that reason being they are true!
In Omnipreneurship, the rule of Collaborate to Accelerate is not only essential but also tied to “I Aim Therefore I Am” and “The Greatest Among You” – it is the glue that holds these rules together. To achieve ambitious goals one must not try to get there alone but instead, gather the greatest people to support one’s efforts both as colleagues and partners.
As I wrote in my book Omnipreneurship, defining what a successful collaboration looks like is key. “A great collaborative partnership merges art and science, heart and head. When it works well, a great collaboration is like a superfuel that propels you and your partner forward much more powerfully than if you were operating under your own steam. But there are pretty strict rules for good collaborations. To make them work well, you need to be thoughtful and deliberate.”
Step 1: Who Does What
What are the unique skills and attributes my team and I can bring to the finish line? Make a clear, detailed list of what you have and don’t have. We need to be sure first of what we, and they, do best.
Step 2: Craft a Shared Language and Agenda
Craft a common language with a common agenda; people are more likely to follow you and cooperate with you if they feel that they share your goals and recognize What Is In It For Them, what I call the WIIIFM.
Step 3: Cement the Agreement
Spell out strategy, roles, goals, responsibilities, budgets, geographical focus, project duration, timelines, deliverables, key performance indicators, legal issues (such as dispute resolution, intellectual property rights, and warranties), and every other conceivable detail in a memorandum of understanding between collaborators.
Step 4: Give the Credit
How the collaborator is credited is crucial; you must know exactly how you will give credit to your targeted collaborator to make it an appealing collaboration. Giving the credit to friends is simply a way of paying forward into the long-term relationship.
To me, there is no such thing as a short-term collaboration. If you collaborate with someone on a project, then, barring big problems, you will likely do so again. The world is very small, after all. Everyone with whom we partner will tell our story, whether that story is good or bad. I believe that the seed I plant today—the collaboration that I create—will pay itself forward, or cost me if I cease to care about other people as friends.