Friday, 28 December 2018

Secrets of successful collaboration: 9. welcome informal offers to share

As well as creating formal agreements to share resources and expertise, etc., look out for and welcome informal offers to share. Often, these will be relatively small offers: a pair of helping hands, a useful piece of equipment, a room, a helpful snippet of knowledge, a little timely expertise or advice, a word in someone's ear... Their smallness and apparent insignificance, however, can be useful in five specific ways:
  1. They can provide quick and timely assistance, filling in and repairing the cracks that often form within a collaboration's formal structures and ways of working.
  2. They can be of unexpected and/or critical value to those who receive them; what is lowly valued and easily offered by one partner may be highly valued and sought-after by another.
  3. They can help all partners, regardless of their level of power and access to resources, feel valued and able to contribute.
  4. They can signal that trust is beginning to develop between partners: people only make personal and informal offers to help when they trust, or are at least are beginning to trust, those to whom they are making the offers.      
  5. They offer small, informal and non-threatening opportunities to connect with people and build upon the above mentioned trust.
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