Working our Values: Collaboration

by julia.hanigsberg | November 11th, 2013

I can’t believe more than three years have passed since I became Ryerson’s Vice President, Administration and Finance. One of the first things I did back then with my (then) new team, was to develop a statement about our vision, mission and values. Among the values we identified was collaboration – and it is one I talk about (a lot).

Our view of collaboration

The importance of collaboration is often raised, but I find that many people don’t have a clear definition or shared understanding of just what it is. For our part, the Administration and Finance Management Group defined collaboration as the building of cross-functional teams from across the university.

Our definition arose out of a belief that in order to be truly collaborative you have to seek out others’ ideas before your own are fully formed. You need to make yourself vulnerable by admitting you don’t necessarily have all the answers to a particular problem and that you may not even be formulating the right question.

Collaboration isn’t about issuing a directive and then attempting to get everyone to endorse it. Such an approach might be “consultation,” but I’m not even sure about that!

Success through collaboration

Collaboration – genuine teamwork – creates solutions that are smarter, more realistic and likely to succeed. The drive to collaborate requires accepting that expertise doesn’t necessarily own solutions. In the final analysis, all of us working together are smarter and more effective than any one of us working alone. That, to me, is the genius of collaboration.

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