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What is Collaborative Working?

Defining Collaboration

Let's start with a formal definition - Collaborative Working is defined as:

"Business relationships formed by committed organisations to maximise joint performance for achievement of mutual objectives and creation of additional value".

It comes from the Latin collaborare, meaning "to work with".

At its abstract level, collaboration embraces:

  • Behaviours: We act and behave to get the best from ourselves and those we collaborate with.
  • Attentiveness: We are aware of and become a part of a wider working group that shares a single purpose.
  • Motivation: We harmonise with the group, working in consensus to develop plans and solve problems.
  • Decisions: We decide as individuals when things need to happen.
  • Involvement We are involved, and we expect others to be involved as well.
  • Mediation: We work as a team and negotiate in order to reach middle ground.
  • Reciprocity: We share information with others to mutual benefit and expect them to share with us in kind.
  • Consideration: We keep our minds open to alternatives.
  • Engagement: We engage proactively rather than "wait and see".

Active collaboration happens when all stakeholders bring together the structures, processes and skills necessary to achieve multiple levels of integration and achieve benefits such as:

  • Strategic: Continuous contact between owner and project leads
  • Tactical: Line managers, supervisors, team leads, etc. all coming together to develop ways of working
  • Operational: Sharing resources, skills, data, information and knowledge
  • Interpersonal: Personal relationships are the mortar that holds the individual elements (bricks) together
  • Cultural: Respect, appreciation, understanding and awareness across disciplines and roles.
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