When collaborating reaches its full potential, there is so much to appreciate. Communication is open, honest and trusting. Learning is significant, disruptive and deep. Coordination is handled impressively and negotiated intelligently. Cooperation is healthy and respectful of boundaries. The process is open ended, surprising and fruitful. The result is inspired, 2+2=5, and better than originally conceived.Collaborations can also be contrived and realize none of those potentials. Communication can be superficial, defensive and controlling. Learning will reinforce justifications, opinions and labels. Coordination will give each the feeling of getting ambushed, compromised and betrayed. Cooperation will degenerate into people-pleasing to avoid conflict. The process will be predictable, mechanized and barren. The result will fall short of expectations and fit a story of "I told you so".
Realizing the full potential of a collaboration involves the evolution of the questions being asked. When we are desperately seeking a collaboration, any collaborator will do. We are questioning whether a collaboration will every happen and whether we are qualified or worthy enough. Our questions arise from a basis of powerlessness and survival.We then change to a consideration of power, control and quality issues. We question how much the collaborator brings to the table and whether there is enough to produce a quality product.
These questions then evolve into wondering if we are doing enough to reach out, cultivate the rapport, understand the other and take responsibility for the atmosphere. Our latest questions arise from a basis of compassion, reciprocation and service.When we realize the full potential of a collaboration, we wonder what will come of this synergy and how to trust the process more. Our questions arise from a sense of mystery, appreciation and fascination. When the technologies of Web 2.0 become second nature, it's likely the occurrences of highly evolved collaborations will be commonplace.