While catching up on email after a week of walking the Camino with my son, I had a short email conversation which gave me the nagging feeling that someone thought that collaboration between companies is something we “just” do.

The wrong comparisons were being made and I doubted if the right groundwork had been done: was it clear why a partnership was needed, was it clear why this company was the best partner? These were two of the basic questions that came to mind, that could not be answered in this short email conversation.

It got me thinking about the fact that there still seem to be many organizations that do not take collaboration as serious as they should be taking it. There are organizations that feel that collaboration is something that just comes natural and does not need special attention.

I remembered a conversation I just had the day before, while walking part of the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. It was a conversation with a professor; he was walking the Camino with a couple of students for whom it was part of their graduation process. Like conversations go on the Camino, we spoke about experiences and challenges in life and work. His work challenges were about collaboration, or better-said, lack thereof and how to overcome it.

Walking the Camino creates an atmosphere where people share some of their deepest feelings within a few kilometers of walking. People are their true self on the Camino and emotions are quickly and easily shared. No-one has anything to hide, we are all there with the same purpose and with the same challenges during the day.

A long walk is an excellent litmus test to see if someone is the right person to hang around with or not. With some people, you have a short exchange and when they share their feelings you quickly notice that they are not your type. With others, you hang around for a longer time and have deeper conversations. With them, the level of trust is rising quickly.

I was only a week on the Camino this time, to join my son on his Camino to Santiago de Compostela. It was a great experience, an experience that brought me and my son even closer to each other. The week allowed for deep conversations about everything we wanted to discuss. Things like life, career, work, friends, spirituality, and so on. It also allowed me to experience my son in his normal doing with other people. I can only conclude that I’m proud to see how he has grown into a warm and caring adult, open and respectful to others and the world.

It was also a week where I made some new connections. Amongst others, I met a financial planner, a professor and an executive coach with whom I walked parts together, who I got to know quite well and with whom I build a high level of trust. With these people I would immediately collaborate, would the opportunity present itself. The partner selection has already been done at the Camino.

Perhaps that is something we should bring into business more: when you are ready for your next partnership, take a walk together and share! Have deep conversations and look into the person and their motivations. It is a perfect litmus test to select and get to know your potential partner and establish a foundation of trust.

Read more about my Camino Francés 2016