I have been writing a lot lately about collaboration. The concept of "Cooperative Significance" has become a centerpiece of my training, speaking and mentoring programs.
While attending the SXSW Interactive Conference I sat in on a panel on the subject of going beyond just "working together" and instead establishing long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships... even with the competition.
Too many people instantly hate the idea of a competitor, but often two or more who have similar businesses can come together and create synergies that help both find more success.
Sally Strebel, Derek Neighbors, Kristie Wells and Jay Baer did a great job of collaborating on the panel. They shared a passion for people that goes beyond just the words spoken. Below are some nuggets I took to heart from their discussion:
For collaboration to work, everyone must be engaged in the project. Collaborating is not one person taking the other on a piggy back ride.
Some don't want to work with others because they do not want to divide ownership, but 10% of something HUGE can be much more than 100% of something small.
Those who are bad collaborators usually have fears. They are scared of the other person taking over, stealing ideas or intellectual property, or otherwise being screwed over. But the universe is made up of good people, and while some folks will take advantage or you, most will not. Do not miss out on the powerful benefits because there are a few selfish jerks out there. If you don't collaborate, what you risk is what you do not get in the end.
This does not mean you should work with everyone. You must like and trust the people with whom you work on projects. A good rule of thumb is are they the type of person you would invite to your house for dinner. The way to know if you like them? Happy Hour (this panel liked to drink... they also gave out shots of Tequila to audience members who asked good questions).
Happy Hour does not necessarily mean drinking... their point was to sit down and talk with others. The old school business mentality was that life is a zeo-sum game. You cannot both win. But savvy entrepreneurs today think everyone can have more if they work well with others (and having more is not always money!).
We live in a world where we do not value people enough. To succeed we need others.
Be honest with yourself about what you are good at, and the areas you fall short. Look for partners who can compliment you and vice versa.
The only difference between collaborators and competitors is how you leave the relationship.
Have A Great Day