10 Simple points to get it right 
You gotta love a Checklist! My hobby is flying planes – I love it because every flight is a privilege and a lesson. No matter who you are every pilot uses checklists - for good reason - We don’t want to miss a trick! So here is my checklist for 10 simple points to getting the art of Collaborating right. 
1. Know 'Who' are your Stakeholders. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the activity, affected by it, or has influence over the outcome of the activity. Now expand this into a "Stakeholder Map" – who is affected or has influence on all the stages? PESTLE can be another great checklist here so as not to miss anyone? Assuming you want the best outcome you will need to understand their needs, expectations and priorities and they all may well be different. An inquisitive approach is often welcomed as you explore who else and what else could be affected by your activity. 
2. Create a Customer Journey Map. Whatever you are collaborating on someone is the beneficiary. So what will their experience be? A Journey map is a great way to walk through your activity looking at all the points that touch different people in the process. Prioritise levels of importance and influence of those involved. This will also identify how you prioritise who you collaborate with first and with most. 
3. Assess the environment. Whoever you are collaborating with works in context to their culture and corporate or personal values and beliefs. Explore that before you assume it's the same as yours - often it isn't. Having spent years coaching in many cultures I can clearly say there is no such thing as normal - so use fresh eyes to view the environment and identify the goals or define the problem from all angles. 
4. Get Clear about what you want – and the worst and best scenario. It can be easy to get excited about an idea, but have you considered what the ideal outcome is, as well as the first idea that could work, and then the least acceptable solution before you walk away. A sort of scale... 'Least Acceptable' to 'Ok' to 'Best'. This means when you negotiate with your collaborators you have a scale to benchmark against, not just the first idea that works! 
5. Know your own SWOT... and then know your stakeholders! Knowing what everyone is best and least good at allows you to then orchestrate your collaborators like the conductor of an orchestra. Bringing in the strengths of one to counter another's weaknesses, The conductor understands the whole picture and the mood they want to create as they bring all the individual instruments together to compliment. 
6. Dig Deep. What is the why behind your collaborator’s objectives? When you understand their why you might bring them more creative ways of achieving their goals instead of getting locked into achieving the known process when new processes may be open and easier! Sometimes we all get fixated on the problem at our feet. Better to look more strategic at the why and the demands constraints and pressures. This is important so let’s break it down these are not just buzz words…! 
7. Demands – What are the demands that your collaborators are committed to achieving – do you really understand the environment they operate in, the outcomes they are committed to delivering? 
8. Constraints – What resources are they limited to? What boundaries are they working within? We all operate from a set of resources or standards and ethics that define how we operate. What are their constraints? 
9. Pressures – These are usually subjective by which I mean it’s a perception of which things they believe are most important? It may be different to what you believe so “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood”. Again there are often layers of why behind their perceived pressures! 
10. Finally, There is a lot in this 10 point checklist. If it’s a big project don’t try and do it all in your head on the fly. Write it out, plan it out, see it in hard writing looking back at you – the gaps in the plan will be easier to spot and you’ll know where, who and what you need to ask to inspire, engage and help all your stakeholders become grateful collaborators. 
By Richard Bisiker: My Purpose and Aim is to support and guide you to reach your peak performance. To know more and see how, contact me on Linkedin. 
“The value of having a regular opportunity to reflect on your current real-time circumstances and responses can not be underestimated.” Institute of Directors. 
Tagged as: Collaboration
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