Collaboration – What Does It Look Like?

Collaboration, in various forms, has always been a critical component of all living creatures, including humans.  In the animal kingdom collaboration is crucial for survival. A pride of lions work together to hunt down an antelope. A herd of zebras band together to protect themselves from hyenas.

In 2006, Alicia Melis produced the results of a study into the how chimpanzees collaborate stating:

“We’ve never seen this level of understanding during cooperation in any other animals except humans”

— Alicia Melis

In Melis’ study she found that not only did chimpanzees understand when they needed help, they understood their role, their partner’s role, and chose who they wanted to work with.

Collaboration is happening all the time in the animal kingdom.  In the business world it should not be viewed as ‘management or consultancy speak’ it is an inbuilt instinct that we as humans have and need to survive and succeed.

Throughout my working life I have always had roles that have had me working with a wide range of people to deliver on various projects.  At the time I never really considered the impact that working with others had on the actual result.  We just got on and did it. As we get a little older and wiser I think we reflect more on our experiences and an immensely positive and recurring experience has been working and collaborating with others to achieve a common goal.

For those of you who know about what we do through Digital DNA you will see that collaboration is a golden thread throughout. We deliver a number of strands whether that be our Main Conference, Digital Tourism Conference or our Digital Futures Programme.  All of these elements would not be successful without the input, support and co-delivery of many organisations, businesses and individuals who all bring
different skillsets and experiences and importantly different goals and motives.

A recent example of ‘what collaboration looks like’ was last week when we delivered three workshops across Northern Ireland which sought to help businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector understand how digital technologies can be harnessed to grow their business.

In delivering the workshops we worked (collaborated) closely with Tourism NI to identify the issues facing the sector so that we could effectively deliver on actual need. Having identified the issues we worked with our delivery partners and the Ulster University to put together a programme which would ensure that delegates took away specific actions that they could practically implement to help grow their business. Internally the Digital DNA team worked together to put the wheels in motion to ensure that logistically everything was in place including communications, booking systems, venues and hospitality and ensuring that the presentations were loaded and the equipment was ready.  We collaborated with three fantastic hotels and importantly with the many delegates. You get the message we collaborated quite a bit.

The reason we collaborated was simple – to bring in the skills and experiences that we did not possess. The reason that others collaborated with us was because what we were delivering contributed to the achievement of their business priorities.  We had a collective pool of the necessary skills and experience and we were all working together to achieve the same thing. For me this is what collaboration looks like – Its not ‘management or consultancy speak’, its instinct.  It’s what we are programmed to do and its what we should all do a lot more of.

Helen Keller puts its simply: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much

About the Author

Gareth Quinn – Founder & CEO @ Digital DNA

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