How to start collaborating

collaboration, collaboration 2.0, collaborative learning, collaborative technology, collaborative thinking, collective intelligenceSo you have decided to implement a collaborative environment for your business and you are wondering now, how do I start? Of course it would always depend on your enterprise needs, but I’m going to give you some tips and clues to begin with.

The four steps to collaborate

1. First of all you will need to define your goals because it will allow you to settle the problems and the most accurate way to solve them with an appropriate strategy. It may seems obvious that individual and group goals must be completely define to make everyone’s tasks easier to accomplish and follow, but you would be surprised by how many times collaboration becomes a headache due to the lack of organization and planning. So spend all the time you need to learn everything about your target, your goals and the team profile you need.

2. Encourage your team to collaborate. You need to get everyone involved in the project committed to collaborate by being the leader they need: a planner, influencer, a communicative listener with initiative and the empowering person they can rely on. And remember, collaboration it’s not only for employees but for directives also. Give everyone clear directions to understand their tasks and roles in the team and make them realize that everyone in the team is an expert so that they can trust and share with each other. It is important to make everyone aware that authorship is not as important as Team Work and the accomplishment of the tasks, because now their endeavor is a common ground.

3. Draw a plan with all milestones and resources needed. Think of the best collaborative tools, software and/or groupware that will allow you to achieve the best results for your project. This will help you prevent a negative work flow and will allow you to control and monitor the timing and progress of the project. You can set an agenda or schedule to help your team follow up. It is important at this point to schedule the tasks and work flow in a way that individual goals will vanish or fade during the process in favor of the common goal. Of course, the organization and planning of this task itself means a collaborative task, because it requires of all the team participation in the process.

4. If you already have everything settled, goals, team, groups, subgroups, your team’s commitment and willingness, resources and agenda, then it’s time for implementation. Once your team starts collaborating, you will have to monitor and follow, but don’t make yourself a bossy leader, instead, be the vision, the person with the initiative and support they can always count on. You need to deal with everyone’s issues and problems as someone who is listening and giving answers to their needs.

Of course, if you are determined to implement collaboration on your business it’s because you’ve learned that  it’s going to help getting a much more productive and effective way to work and to achieve the goals. Planning collaboration means a lot of work for a start, but it gives double in return of the endeavors once it’s started.

This is one of the many possible models suggested for collaboration you can follow, but in my experience, it has proved to be the most worthwhile and profitable structure to plan and implement a collaborative working structure.

Does it work for you?

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10 Responses to How to start collaborating

  1. adriano says:

    Hi Lorie!!!!. You are talking about a system where there is a hierarchical structure as a company, but also it is possible to collaborate without a top control or where the participants are in the same level of the organization or they belong to diferents groups or organizations .

    • lorievela says:

      Thanks for your comment, Adriano
      Of course, Collaboration means co-work, and it doesn’t imply hierarchical issues, it has to be compelling and needs a committed endeavor from all shareholders, no matter whether there is or not an organization chart.
      Collaboration has a great potential by all means, we just need to dive in! Still, we need to find the best and most accurate tools to do it.

  2. Following up on Adriano’s comment methinks there will be rapid grow of self-organized project teams in this increasingly complex, connected bottom-up world so between that first and second step is the opportunity to choose and recruit your team members. Each must have a sweet spot of mutual benefit to participate. Then it is good insurance for performance and trust to collectively adopting rules of engagement – including the rule by which you can kick someone off the team or put someone new on….
    I really enjoy your blog btw Lorie. If you venture over here I’d love to host you for a bit here in Sausalito :-)

  3. Lorie Vela says:

    Many thanks, Kare, I have been a follower of your work for long.

    As the world gets more and more connected, a good collaboration structure, tool and planning is a must for all work teams, and it’s their committed effort and endeavor to make it success, so there will be no place for those who won’t be willing to it.

    I will definitely go to Sausalito one of these days! Missing Frisco, sometimes. Funny I have passed by so many times, but never had the time to stop by! My pleasure, Kare. And of course, if you ever plan on crossing the Atlantic and make it to Spain, you’ll be welcome! Seville is a gorgeous city.

  4. Loris
    Visiting Spain is a possibility and I would, indeed, find a way to your lovely city. When my biz partner and I launch DovetailCollaboration in Nov. (a portal for tips on collaboration) i would welcome some from you so keep a look out :-)

  5. Lorie Vela says:

    I sure will! My pleasure, indeed. Looking forward to it! :-)

  6. adriano says:

    Hi lorie:
    kare said something that i consider very important in a collaboration enviroment:”the rule by which you can kick someone off the team or put someone new on…” . It’s a key point.
    from my point of view: It´s necessary to define very well what one participant hopes to get from others ( define SLA) and to fix the “cost ” (in any system or enviroment the cost could be dollars, time units, units of pollution , public acknowledge…) . When some participant doesn´t fullfill the SLA it´s possible to initiate a procedure to solve the problem(this procedure could finish with the replacement of one participant ) . Then we have several issues:
    1.- goals.( own goals and common goals )
    2.- SLA (rules).
    3.- costs (compensation).

    bye my friends !!!

  7. Lorie Vela says:

    Thank you again, Adriano, for your comment. If you like, you could also read my latest post “How to set up a collaborative team”, where somehow I’m dealing with that kind of issues: how important it is to be really demanding to set up a team, with the future members and with your self, of course. Collaboration is positive when every link in the chain accomplish its task, but when that fails, it’s time to start thinking about replacing that link. Also, as you say, some SLA are a must, to structure the procedures which will empower convergence and internal benchmarking, and it’s the whole team and leader’s work to come up with the best solutions and ideas as a statement agreement.


  8. Lokesh Datta says:


    We also have a similar approach to collaboration. Our holistic approach for effective collaboration, as you may know, consists of 4Ps: Purpose, People, Process and Place.

    I look forward to collaborating with you on topics of mutual interest and putting our ideas into action collaboratively.

    Regards, Lokesh

    • Lorie Vela says:

      Sure Lokesh, I truly think we can collaborate and come up with something really interesting. You know I have been following you and Allcollaboration Blog for long now, I appreciate your comments and interest. I’m completely open to suggestions and collaborations, my pleasure indeed.


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