Finding Community in Collaboration

Gill TineyJuly 4, 20188min0
As we advance into a world of ever-increasing technology - from Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality to 3D printers and driverless cars - we seem to fall into two camps: early adopting enthusiasts and fear-mongering Luddites.


Having been to many conferences where new innovations have been announced, such as the ability to 3D print blood and body organs, to AI that learns from its own mistakes and can win debates with humans, it’s possible to envisage an ‘I Robot’ style apocalypse.

Or perhaps you are one of the growing armies that sees new technology as the saving of humanity, and that it should be welcomed.

Whatever the reality from your perspective, one thing is certain: we can’t turn back the clock, it is coming. Never throughout history have we experienced such unprecedented change.

The needs of the workplace are slowly learning to adapt. The world of the SME business owner is now fraught with not simply keeping up, but also being seen to innovate, to create something that stands out from the crowd, and be seen using the latest technology.

It is a rare business that doesn’t utilise technology for their Customer Relationship Management, with Infusionsoft still dominating. However, is that because people aren’t prepared to change, rather than it being the best product?

Some people view taking on new technology as a risk; that it could be here one day and gone the next. The same with accounting packages – which one to choose? Xero, Sage, Quickbooks, Kashflow?

Get stuck in and it is not a light decision to swap and suffer the inevitable learning curve downtime. Add in the additional costs of this monthly software and many businesses find these costs pile up and prevent them from moving into offices and instead revert to the garden shed or back bedroom.

This is where the main issue of our technological age begins to rear its ugly head. Small business owners are becoming isolated. Technology enables people to do not need other people. We use software developers from around the world – how marvellous. Yet we never get to meet them and shake their hand, thanking them for a good job.

The software allows automation; our customers no longer need to even speak to a human. Have you experienced a helpline chat mode and realised you are actually corresponding with a bot? Very unnerving!

Human interaction is diminishing; we are on our way to an epidemic of loneliness. Lynda Gratton (British organisational theorist, consultant, and Professor of Management Practice at London Business School) wrote The Shift – The Future of Work is Already Here and established that if we continue on the current trajectory we will be suffering more mental and physical illness due to lack of human interaction.

The community as we used to know it has all but disappeared. Office environments are working hard to create a space for collaboration. WeWork, a co-working office space, provides full social opportunities to help the occupants of their buildings communicate and come together in order to collaborate.

Having spent some time working from these spaces I found that people generally do not understand the nuances of community and are still fundamentally isolated in their glass-walled beautiful workspace.

Why is this? People are being provided with opportunities to connect and support each other, yet unless there is a financial transaction there appears little impetus to do so. I believe we have lost the value of community and as a result, collaborations are diminished because trust isn’t present.

In order to have true collaboration, you require a shared culture within a community operating from a paradigm of love, connection, and abundance. From here, trust is formed and true collaborations are possible. Collaborations where there are no limits.

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’
-Margaret Mead

A shared culture builds and develops in a community of people coming together where they spend time getting to know each other. By creating and understanding the values of the community there is a shared bond. If these values are never considered or even expressed, it becomes harder to build relationships that are based on trust and stand the test of time.

Can you see how technology, whilst making much of life infinitely faster to communicate, is hindering relationship building by reducing the need to meet in person? Even video calls do not, and should not, replace in-person communication.

There is something intangible about meeting in person – we get a gut instinct about whether we like someone or not, whether they understand us, whether we have a possible future together.

By being part of a community, we have the opportunity to grow our relationships with like-minded and like-hearted people and then collaborations flow, opportunities are created, and the fun happens.

The financial benefits come after the alignment. When the purpose of a project is finance and time has not been spent creating alignment within the team, then ultimately it is not a happy working environment. Success will struggle to show up.

To be clear

Collaboration is NOT teamwork, or cooperation, or shared objectives.

True collaboration occurs when three or more people who are aligned come together on a project that provides a win/win for everyone concerned. From this space, incredible collaborations grow, that know no bounds and indeed the financial rewards follow.

Being aware of the new innovations is useful; understanding what technology works for your business is fundamental, however, if there is no acknowledgement of the power of your relationships – that they are the cornerstone of any organisation – then success will be fleeting.

We achieve more when we work together – a simple truth that has its roots in collaboration. Create or find YOUR community, align your values, build relationships, use technology to support those relationships, and always work towards a ‘systemic win’, then you can look to collaborate with those who are wanting the best for you, coming from a place of abundance that will generate the fulfilment of your dreams.

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