Be forewarned! If you go out to dinner with me on a day when I didn’t get to write, you may be pressed into collaborative service. Such was the fate of my husband and friends last night.
by Angela Rutherford on flickr creative commons
Writing – blog posts and book pages – is my top priority from now until March and I am applying reward incentives to keep myself focused. One of those is “No wine until I write two!” The two is two blog posts (to stay ahead of the game), two pages (on the book) or two genuine hours of writing (even if it doesn’t yield a finished product).
Yesterday got away from me before I could write my quota. With me at dinner were my husband George, and friends Mike and Diane. We’d already ordered the wine so I had to act quickly. I asked, “Can someone give me two examples of how collaboration worked for you this week?” Both Mike and Diane came up with an answer. I’ll save Diane’s collaboration example for another day.
Mike talked about finding a problem with the way a customer’s data was showing up on reports that his company produces. He got his team together to solve the issue, considering whether the data was coming in incorrectly, what happened to the data next, finding the source of the problem, deciding if it applied to other customers and estimating the cost of fixing it. The point of the story was that the team collaboration helped to resolve the issue quickly.
Much to Mike’s dismay, Diane and George started asking him a whole lot of questions, attempting to collaboratively solve the issue all over again! My glass of wine was perched at my place-setting waiting for me to take my first sip so I asked Mike if he needed any help and he said “No everything is being handled.” Yahoo!
The moral is: If you’re out to dinner with me and supply an example be sure to start by stating what help, if any, you need. Hmmm…that’s a tip that might work in other situations too.
How do you motivate yourself to stay focused on your priorities?
Sometimes collaboration alone is not enough to get something done. For example, to get our blog started, Maddie and I collaborated. We posted twice and then 2 months went by. Hmmm… that wasn’ t working.
We made a commitment to blog twice a week — I’d take the beginning of the week and Maddie would take the end. Gwyn Nichols also weighed in with ideas and encouragement. We were going along well for awhile and then life got busier. We had 8-day, 13-day and 11-day gaps. Then no posts in December. Yikes!
So when Jackie Dishner offered the National Speakers Association AZ Chapter Blogathon we jumped on board. We committed to posting and visiting regularly, daily if possible. Now we had Jackie cheering us on and offering ideas as well as our blogathon buddies visiting and posting comments. How encouraging!
Even then, it took awhile to establish a habit. The accountability to others helped us to stick with it long enough and I’m happy to say that we’ve now accomplished 8 days in a row! We’re still committed to writing daily though we may focus on our book and not post quite as often.
What habit do you want to establish? How can collaboration, commitment, renewal, and accountability get you through to the habit?
Shackleton was not impressed by our ideas
I have a lot of experience with collaborating long distance and find that it works quite well. For example, yesterday I met by phone with Maddie Hunter, who lives in NJ, and Gwyn Nichols who is here in AZ. We talked for about an hour or so, brainstorming and planning a presentation that we will give in a few months.
Then, we divided up some assignments and hung up to write individually for a half-hour. We emailed our drafts and got back on the phone to discuss and edit and plan next steps. It was productive and fun, and together we came up with ideas that would not have occurred to us individually.
We’ve used google docs (docs.google.com)to brainstorm by writing ideas simultaneously in a spreadsheet and to store documents that we both need to access. Now we’re trying a collaborative online project management software program that Gwyn introduced us to – viewpath.net. Has anyone ever tried it?
What tools do you use to collaborate long distance?
Photo by mil8 from creative commons of flikr.com
I was conducting our Maximize Your Performance through Collaboration workshop and mentioned that an over-expressed strength can also be a challenge. As an example, I used my strength of taking responsibility for things (sometimes everything!!!). While it is truly a strength, when over-employed, it can inhibit the contributions of others.
One of the participants was nodding his head and shared this story. “I learned an important lesson early on in my Navy career. I was feeling pretty good about a brainstorming session I’d just had with my staff.”
“My superior said ‘Congratulations! You just did a great job collaborating…with yourself!’ He was right. Most of the ideas that we generated came from me. I never forgot that lesson.”
Do you have a strength that gets in the way of collaborating?