Collaboration is all the rage.  And for good reason.  It allows for a meeting of the minds, buy-in from those sitting at the table and an opportunity to consider diverse perspectives and options that may well contain the best next step.  However collaboration is not a cure-all.  More cooks in the kitchen doesn’t always make the sauce taste better.  It can be time-consuming, inefficient and depending on how it’s facilitated it can simply reflect group-think.  At a later date I’ll address “The 6 Keys to Great Collaboration”, but for now here’s when to use it and when not to use it:

When to use it:

  • To find a solution to address an ongoing challenging issue
  • To consider the pros and cons of moving forward on an opportunity
  • Beginning of a project – scope, roles, SMART goals, general timeline, desired results
  • When you need agreement, buy-in and support to have success on moving forward
  • When you really want input, ideas, suggestions and feedback on a topic that’s central to the viability/improvement of the company
  • Big picture thinking, consideration of major changes to the company – identity, service/product mix, significant growth, merger, acquisition

When not to use it:

  • To garner agreement or approval on a decision that’s already been made
  • Issues around safety
  • Issues around ethics – just do the right thing, period.  No discussion needed.
  • Decisions that require urgent action
  • Financial issues that are critical to the viability of the company
  • Detailed or logistics intensive planning (instead have one person propose a plan of action and garner input on the viability of the plan)
  • Small decisions