The Magic of Collaboration

I just had the most amazing experience co-designing a talk I gave last week for PechaKuchaNights: Fort Collins. If you’ve not heard of PK, you’re not alone. Think of it as haiku for public speaking. There’s more about it here.

Fort Collins had a lovely turnout of about 40-50 people listening to 9 different speakers. Such a fun crowd!

When I was approached to be a presenter in three weeks, my response was, “I have no idea what to talk about, I don’t even know how to make a power point deck – so, sure. Of course I will.” Three weeks is plenty of time. Even though inside my head I’m screaming “NO! NO! You don’t have a message! NO! NO! NOOOOO!  You’re not ready! NO! NO!” I still said “yes.”

What made it all work was the collaboration between the story unfolding on the slide deck and the story that unfolded in my script. The slide deck held the focus while the voice told the story. I hope it gets posted soon so you can see how beautifully they flow together.

Working on this project with the designer (annemarietalon.com ) was such a dream. Between the two of us, we fashioned a narrative that worked visually and visuals that worked with the storyline.   We were on a tight deadline with specific parameters; so we had to get on it.

It was a challenge for both of our skill sets and the end product was better because of our collaboration. When all was complete, we both felt like we glowed a little.

I remember another time when collaboration worked so well it felt like magic. In 2004 a dozen professional coaches banded together to impact legislation in Colorado. We were scattered all over the state and met mostly by phone, our interests were varied and we always stood up for our point of view. We listened well and deep and we always did what we said we would do.

Working on that team showed me what it means to trust every single person on the team, no exceptions.. I can’t think of a single time that someone did not follow through. We individually had high standards and those standards became a group norm.

True collaboration feels like magic when you’re in the middle of it. Everyone does what they say they will, deadlines are met, people listen to each other, and trust levels are high. It seems like the outcome is better than anyone ever thought it could be.

And it’s true. Collaboration really does happen. Be on the alert, it could happen in a workplace just like yours! And when it does, keep your word.  Always do what you say you’re going to do.


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