The labor in Col-“labor”-ation

I laughed when I saw this.  How many of us have been on one or both sides of this table before?

“We want to include you in this decision without letting you affect it.”

We’re asked to give advice or recommend a solution.  So we work hard and sometimes spend long hours to provide the best answer.  Later we learn that our recommendations were not followed, and possibly never looked at.  We’re deflated.

That has happened to me more than once.  One time early in my career as a young consultant, our team was asked to recommend a set of new Standard Operating Procedures for a large financial office.  We worked long hours, carefully considered every detail, and ultimately delivered a 350-page masterpiece (so we thought) for our client to implement.  They took our deliverable with appreciation, even admiration, and we were paid for our work.  But in the months that followed as I did subsequent work for the client, I noticed that our document simply collected dust on a shelf in the office.  Our “deliverable” was just that: deliver-able but not implement-able.  So that was it – all that time amounted to “shelfware.”   Why?  I learned that it wasn’t because our solutions for them were inaccurate or our ideas were bad.  It just wasn’t their solution.

I often point my clients to a concept from Michael Wilkinson’s book, The Secrets of Facilitation.  He says that an 85% solution with the right stakeholder involvement is better than a 100% solution without stakeholder involvement.

So that’s why we make decisions collaboratively. If it’s our decision, we determine who should weigh in.  If it’s our opportunity to recommend a solution, we involve the key players in the process. Does it require more work? Yes.  Is it a slower process? Usually in the short-term.  Is it more painful and risky at the beginning?  Often.

But in the end, it pays off.  We provide lasting value to those involved and get much closer to accomplishing our decision goals.  So I’m interested in your thoughts: What are the risks and benefits of collaboration?