The 10-Ingredient Collaboration Recipe

Published: February 22, 2016

Blending differences has the potential to polarize as well as coalesce. How do you collaborate effectively when everyone at the table is an expert? How might generosity and sharing occur when each stakeholder represents a different cause? Understanding the recipe for effective collaboration provides a starting point. Consider these ingredients:

  1. Prioritize questions over answers.
  2. Listen to the outliers.
  3. Elevate the voices of the quietest participants.
  4. Strive to see old problems in new ways.
  5. Pay attention to the give/take ratio of your contribution.
  6. Share stakeholder status.
  7. Give credit and communicate gratitude.
  8. Consider a perspective other than your own.
  9. Pause and reset whenever anyone disengages or tunes out.
  10. Be inspired by the mentors on your team.

Teams ambitiously seek to harness the power of their diverse strengths to advance their performance. Often, their differences become obstacles rather than fuel. Instead of expending energy protecting your interests, imagine what might happen if your priorities were shared. This is how teams become greater than a mere collection of individuals.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.