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Collaboration

Choosing collaboration partners

 

There are some very  interesting conclusions in a 2005 survey about the Ideal Collaborative Team conducted by Mitch Ditkoff and Tim Moore of IdeaChampions, Carolyn Allen of Innovation Solution Center and Dave Pollard of Meeting of Minds.

It’s probably not too surprising to learn that most people would rather have inexperiencedpeople with a positive attitude than highly experienced people who lack enthusiasm, candor or commitment, on a collaborative work team. But I do particularly like their suggestions on how to select collaborators for a project, based on the survey results:

1. Establish clear objectives of the collaboration and the commitments required ofteam members. This will allow you to exclude people who are unable or unwillingto make that commitment up front, either for logistical reasons or because they will not sufficiently understand or appreciate the objectives.

2. Decide on the appropriate collaborator selection process.

a. Selection of members by an individual or panel

b. Selection of invitees by an individual or panel (where the invitees then have the option of accepting or declining membership, and additionalinvitations are sent until a satisfactory team has been assembled) or

c. Self-selection by open invitation to anyone not disqualified by thecommitments or objectives (step 1 above)

3. Decide on the selection (or self-selection) criteria, by selecting among the 39criteria shown in Fig. 1 above, and adding any technical skill and expertiserequirements of team members. If diversity is one of the criteria (and it usually will be) consider whether it is necessary that all members of the collaborationteam meet all of the criteria, or if it sufficient that just one, a few, or a majority of the team members meet these criteria.If the membership is deliberately or inevitably going to be skewed by gender, age, experience or occupation, consider some of the qualities that these specificdemographics consider particularly important in a collaborator, per Fig. 2 above.At the same time you will probably want to make a preliminary assessment of theappropriate size of the collaboration team. Note that even if you use an invitation process, determination of criteria is still vitally important, both in deciding when you have a sufficient number of appropriate acceptances, and in allowing inviteesto appreciate what qualities are expected of them if they accept. This is especially important if you use the Open Space approach to invitation (“whoever comes are the right people”).

4. Review (or, if the group is self-selected, have them review) the composition of the team against the objectives, commitments and criteria. If important representation is missing, augment the composition of the team accordingly.

5. Allow the members of the team to get familiar with each other, ideally in a social setting or using team-building exercises, before they begin to address the objectives of the collaboration. If the team is virtual, this is just as important if not more so, but different familiarization activities will be needed.

A Final Note:  if it’s your task to assemble a collaborative team, remember that, in many cases, the team reflects the personality, style, and mindset of the people who launch it.Be aware of your own biases, talk to others about your choices, and exemplify the qualities (especially enthusiasm, open-mindedness, curiosity and candor!) that you’relooking for in your team.

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About Margaret Gold

Margaret is an innovation and business launch specialist in the mobile industry, one of the organisers of Over the Air (the annual mobile developer hack-a-thon event), and the founder of The Mobile Collective.

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