Collaboration, whether inside an organization in teams or between organizations in alliances, is established to achieve a result we cannot achieve alone. We can do it more effectively together. In other words, collaboration is about synergy, it is about 1 + 1 = 3. When you focus solely on what is in it for you, then the collaboration is either doomed to fail, or it will never reach it’s full potential.

In any type of collaboration you will need to focus on what is in it for all parties involved. The collective synergy created in a collaboration will lead to an increased result for all, including yourself.

Many collaborations fail because of the fact that people tend to forget this. They start to focus more on themselves rather than on the collective. They stop communicating and sometimes start taking positions about others; thus slowly, but steadily, they are poisoning the collaboration. This often leads to toxic teams and failed partnerships.

I’ve seen this happen many times. By the time I am called in to help, the people involved are already pretty blindsided. It is easy for them to finger point to the other party, but difficult to have an objective look at their own involvement.

Finger pointing will not help in creating solutions. Even though you might feel that someone else really has to change, you can’t force them to do so. Neither can I. However, what I can and will do, is help you and your partners look into the mirror of your collaborative behavior.

Almost always it turns out that there is no single party to blame for a toxic situation. Every party has a role in the situation, some stronger than others. The view in the tailored mirror will be a good basis in order to help you change for the better and come back to a healthy situation.

When each of the parties is willing to work personally on changing for the benefit of the collective, there is a good chance the collaboration will come back on track.

The willingness to change comes down to you individually. Collaboration starts with you: your collaborative ability is built on your attitude and your behavior. You are the only one who can change you, and that is exactly why collaboration is all about you!

PS: Read more about the ABCD model and behavioral issues.