The first records of the word “collaborate” come from the 1870s. It derives from the Latin verb collabōrāre. The prefix col- is a variant of com-, meaning “together.” At the heart of the word is labor, meaning “work.”  Collaboration is a hot buzzword in the business world. And with good reason. Working with people who have different perspectives or areas of expertise can result in better ideas and outcomes.  There’s more and more to know in the world, and you can only have so much in your head.

In 1903, the Wright Brothers were two men who designed and flew an airplane. Today, a Boeing 787 has dozens of specialists working on the engines alone. Then there are the controls, the hydraulics, the airframe itself.  Meaning, you are unlikely to build a plane today as an aviation generalist. It is the collaboration among all those specialists that gets it off the ground. And the same goes for teams across all industries and infrastructures. 

Nate Nichols, president of digital strategy at Teal Orbit, and Arun Prabhakaran, vice president at the Urban Affairs Coalition, believe there are a lot of options through digital platforms for collaboration, but there is also a lot of noise and, what Natalie Nixon from Figure 8 Thinking coins, “F.O.K.U” –or, fear of keeping up!

Regardless of industry, we are truly in the relationship business.  When we collaborate with complimentary organizations, this is when our clients’ needs are served best. 

Creative abrasion is a term was coined by Jerry Hirsch from Nissan.  “Abrasion” is a process of wearing down through friction.  Friction may typically be associated with something negative, but friction in its purest form, is energy. So why not convert that energy that comes from working with people who are different from you, into something positive? Leverage the differences and work to identify what can be complementary about them.

Collaborating propels your firm to become a learning organization, a popular phrase right now that refers to organizations which have cultures of ongoing learning, and structures that support that learning through safety nets for failure, and opportunities for growth in all aspects of employees’ lives. Each time your firm collaborates with others you optimize the capacity of your associates to extend beyond their comfort zone, grow, and in turn, stretch the boundaries of the organization.

Collaboration can provide solutions, give individuals a strong sense of purpose and also reinforce that you are all on the same team.  Ultimately, the goal of workplace collaboration is to maximize the chances of success by administering an open, communicative, and collaborative experience among all members of an organization.

Collaboration in the workplace takes into account employees’  ideas, skills, experiences, and opinions. When individuals work together openly, processes and goals become more aligned, leading the group towards a higher success rate of achieving a common goal. With increasing competition in the market, it’s become increasingly important to encourage collaboration in the workplace. Collaboration spurs creativity, improves productivity, and increases employee satisfaction. With the right mindset and practices, collaboration can be a unique differentiator for your company. Collaboration in the workplace is a critical contributor to overall business success.

“Collaboration is multiplication.” – John C. Maxwell