The need to collaborate is well understood in the world of design, yet we are never really taught how to collaborate. In the worlds of business and marketing collaboration tends to become confused with team building and what I call ‘follow the leader’ where the first thing on the agenda is to establish a team leader. Collaboration is much more dangerous and more difficult than ensuring everyone accepts their role and the leader provides overall direction.
Collaboration means there is no leader or direction and each team or group member brings their own experience, knowledge and expertise, yes even a different agenda. Collaboration is not about compromise, but it is about negotiation and navigation and understanding what is important and critical and what is not. Collaboration is a powerful design research tool if used properly.
This IDEO resource discusses what they describe as the three essential behaviours necessary when collaborating. The behaviours are as follows: 1) Learning as experimentation, but not as knowing; 2) Curiosity to question what we know; and 3) Vulnerability as a way of building trust with others and talking about your failures, strengths and weaknesses.