In my last article, the focus was on the importance of the coach, educator, or employer creating an environment that engages individual students, players, or employees in such a way that they can construct new knowledge and develop new skills that helps them get to the end we have-in-mind (i.e., goals, outcomes, etc). Designing your pathways to your end-in-mind using activities and approaches that promote questioning, thinking, and learning from one another will build a sense of intellectual engagement and camaraderie that will have positive effects on your group’s achievement. In addition, the process of interacting with other people requires a person to continually transition between being a receiver and creator of information. Helping members of a group promote the kind of intellectual camaraderie and the positive attitudes toward learning from one another builds a sense of community. This community connection can solve problems by building on each other’s knowledge and skills, and move the group toward its goals more effectively. Collaboration is an important vehicle to promote this transformational process.
In its simplest form, collaboration is the act of working with another person or group of people to create, produce, or complete something. We have all been part of highly effective teams as well as teams that have struggled. The questions that always emerge as we consider the effectiveness of these groups are: What were the characteristics of these highly effective teams, and what can we do to increase the probability that teams will function in this manner? One of the key characteristics of successful teams is that they have developed a shared goal. This characteristic emphasizes the importance of a participatory process in developing your end-in-mind. The most effective teams share a common vision or common goal of the task and the desired outcomes. Sharing a common goal provides a strong sense of team purpose that serves as a beacon for team success. One of the biggest challenges to designing a share vision is creating an environment that provides everyone with the opportunity to contribute to the development of the shared goal. One must be very intentional about that process that is used to ensure that everyone had an opportunity for input. When members of a group have the opportunity to effectively contribute to the shared vision it will lead to one of the most fundamental outcomes for our team, that is, a sense that “we are all in this together,” or “we sink or swim together.”