The ICT’s of Collaboration

C ollaboration is the quintessential skill and practice needed to do good at scale. It is built on three pillars- information, communication and trust-ICT.

Trust is at the core of all relationships. If we imagine an egg, it is the yolk, with information being the egg white with communication being the shell. As soon as cracks appear in our communication with our market or partners, everything is at risk and the quality, nature and mix of information available changes with trust leaking. If we imagine that same egg hard-boiled, cracks in the shell (communication) are not nearly as detrimental to the layers of information and trust below. The introduction of heat and pressure have hardened and therefore protected those layers so that collaboration can still occur.

This distinction between a fresh and hard-boiled egg when thinking about these layers of collaboration are critical to understanding how we go about building partnerships as ‘do-gooders’. Anytime we set out to collaborate, we must be intentional about building the three layers, and that starts with self-awareness. Questions such as, ‘how do we communicate?’, ‘what is our goal in communicating?’, ‘what messages already in circulation concern our areas of interest and the stakeholders involved?, ‘what kinds of information do we need to properly assess partnerships and how do we even process (interpret, act, react, store) the information we do receive?’ and others may come to mind.

Questions of communication and information are foundational to establishing trust because we vet each other’s words and deeds over time, with biased points of view and most often handicapped patterns of thought. It is imperative therefore that we spend the time to be deliberate in building the trust through clear, consistent communication, enriched by multiple and reputable streams of information so that our messages are received as intended. These are good grounds for collaborative work. They build in the protections needed when communication is less than perfect and when misinformation invariably comes at us to disrupt impactful partnerships. When done right, it is these times of pressure that serve as the heated water to create that hard-boiled egg spoken of earlier.

If this missive has just left you hungry with no further grasp of the ICTs of collaboration, then at least consider having a meal with a friend or colleague and discuss how you can partner in some venture for good today.

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