The first thing that occurs to me when I think about this subject is that this word, this simple word, is already an example by itself of something that only happens because there is more than one element participating in it. See:

Co + Labor + Action

Although taking the risk that you might stop reading this post after this next statement, let me say that it is my opinion that the biggest problem of the late 40 years has been that Man has grown on individuals the thirst of protagonism, I mean, the will to be known as the one that has ‘made it’.

The truth though is that nothing comes out successfully if one is doing, whatever you may imagine, all by himself.

When you see, for instance, a Formula One Pilot taking his Winner’s Crown at the end of a race, do you imagine how many others are feeling ‘We Made It!’, for they have actively participated in the preparation of the car, the software, the systems that need to be in place so that the pilot doesn’t have to bother about anything but to drive the car? There are something like 50 to 75 technicians behind that smiling face. They are all winners, at that moment.

What does a success show us, then, for us to be a supporter of ‘Co + labor + action’?

It basically shows that there has been:

1. a common purpose (a goal; the will to achieve that goal; the engagement to focus upon ‘what can I do to help the group achieving our goal?’);

2. a great level of comunication (may I remind you that this word also shows collaboration?: common + action, or, if you want, the action of doing things together – I talk, you listen + you respond, I listen);

3. a plan that suits all individuals, and sets their roles and responsibilities;

4. hard work;

5. an opened environment that enables organized discussions upon whatever might need improvement;

6. belief;

7. support, and

8. permanent attention on the status of all tasks.

My activity for the past 30 years has almost always been directed towards creating and developing Teams.

The method I follow (that I’ve named ‘Generation of Motives for Action’) is a very simple combination (again, this word means: various elements contributing for a result that is larger than the sum of the initial elements – a soup is a combination of water, salt, vegetables, but, at the end, each one of those elements tastes better than if they were left alone…) of techniques that I’ve been as lucky as to be attentive to (and to have applied them).

Let’s take a look at how it’s assembled:

1. Get your ‘Team-to-be’ into the same space;

2. Remember them of what Michelangelo told us about goal setting: ‘The biggest problem of Mankind is not to set one’s target too high and miss, but to establish it in a low position and meet it’, in order to create a feeling of power (I can aim for the stars!);

3. Ask for three individual options on the question that has gathered us together, by written, anonimously;

4. Show, in bulk, all the options that had arisen;

5. Offer each one the choice to vote upon 1/3 + 1 of the number of options describbed, individually, by written;

6. Show the results of that ‘voting’ and order the list by number of votes.

7. Set, with your ‘New Team’, the plan of actions to follow the strategy you’ve just found your ‘Team’ has just defined.

8. Hands on it!

Let’s take a look at what happened until this moment:

When, in the first moments, you’ve asked for solutions (step 3), each one of the participants is a ‘protagonist’, the hero that will save the situation;

At the next step (#4) each one will find that ‘my solutions’ are similar to some of those from others in the group (usually, with a group of 8 individuals you will get 24 answers, but only around 15 different options);

Now, you are offering 1/3 + 1 votes: actually what you’ll be doing is to offer each one the chance to confirm their first options (3), and to vote in other options he didn’t initially considered, but which, now, make perfect sense. Consider the example I’ve given above: you have listed 15 different options; divide 15 by 3, and you’ll get 5; add one, and you’ll be able to offer 6 votes per participant.

What has just happened is that one has started to accept other opinions, setting Common Ground.

I’m sure you will find, if you decide to use this method, how wide is that Common ground. Usually you will find that at least one of the options listed will receive one vote from each participant, meaning you already have a Team top priority. Don’t disregard, though, all other options and get ready to prepare an action plan for each one of them. All it takes, from this moment on, is hard work… in an environment of:


(Note: at the moment, I’m collaborating with Leaders Café 2020; DifferenceMakers; Interconnectedness Day; NetWorlding. Hope you may appreciate the goals of these collaboration examples and get ready to come and collaborate with us for a great future world. Do you believe in yourself? Then, come join us!)


4 thoughts on “COLLABORATION – a paradigm or ‘the solution’?

  1. Luis, I really like that you have outlined a methodology for collaboration. Collaboration is indeed crucial for leading the future. I consider collaboration to be one of four important aspects of leading transformation and innovation alongside mutual appreciation, mutual understanding and learning.In the case of intercultural learning, for instance, collaboration is instrumental to innovation and co-creation – it enables us to draw on the diverse views and experiences of a team or wider group of people. I write about this in furthe detail here http://www.connectcreate.co.uk/blog/2010/09/30/what-is-intercultural-leadership-and-why-should-we-care-about-it/

    Thanks Luis – honoured to be co-creator of the networks you mention. Best wishes, Sara

  2. Very nice post, Luis. I really liked it; esp. the mathematical calculation part. Really, it is where co’ is important for all the labor actions. May the actions be called leadership 😉

  3. Very interesting the conjugation of a technical-etymological ability word (de)compostion as a start up for a methodological proposal on “Co+Labor+Action”, through a simple arithmetic calculation, to achieve the “Common ground”!
    Notwithstanding, “COLLABORATION – a paradigm or ‘the solution’?” can be seen as a methodological oxymoron, based on the assumption that ‘the solution’ only is a solution within the paradigm frame (cf. Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”;
    Diego Gonçalves, Carmen (2005), “Neutrality in Data Collection”, Encyclopedia of Social Measurement, vol. 2, pp. 827-838, Elsevier).

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