Recently I wrote about how collaboration is all about you and about four elements of a collaborative mindset. Those articles show that you have an important role in a collaboration and that for success it is imperative that you have a collaborative mindset and think more in terms of “we” than “I”.

To a certain extent, it is all about the team.

However, the boundaries of your team might not be so easily defined. You can identify your team members from your department or organization, and hopefully, you know who the team members are in your partner’s organization. When your collaboration is formed through a joint venture, it might even be easier. Then you are all together in the separate entity that forms the joint venture organization.

Is that all that is part of the team?

No! Most of us no longer live in traditional hierarchical organizations and the team will have a broader perspective to it. Thus you should want to include your stakeholders as part of your extended team as well. That means you will need to involve your peers, your direct reports, your managers and possibly even some layers up in your organization.

They are all part of your extended team, even though their role will be less active. You should keep them informed of the right level and amount of information. This to make sure that they are up to speed whenever you need their involvement. Another benefit of involving them appropriately is that it will enable you to manage perceptions.

The involvement of stakeholders is not only important in collaborations, but also for any other tasks that you are working on; it is always good to influence and manage perceptions of stakeholders. After all, perception is reality!

There is another benefit to their involvement: because of the more distant view of your extended team, they can also provide great, and often unbiased, input. Like working with a coach, your stakeholders sometimes see things that you can’t see. Simply because you are in the middle of your work and they are not. A distant view can shed new lights on things.

That is also why I feel it to be important to involve stakeholders when I start an engagement with a client. Involving all stakeholders allows me to paint the complete picture of what issues are at hand and leads to the fastest resolution.

So, within the context of the wider team: Who is on your team?