FrisbeeLast week's post, "Toward Collaboration," has inspired questions from readers of Net Cotton Content.

For example, Mark Schuetz, a founding member of my first Vistage group, asks: "In what ways would our relationship need to change that would produce the changes you outlined?"

Isn't that a wonderful question?
It provokes us to explore what collaboration looks like. With clearer definition. Naming the steps.

As I consider Mark's kind question, and reflect on more than two years of sitting with him at the Vistage 2245 table, the question makes me think: "I think we're there. I think we already moved from vendor-client to collaborators." 

Why do I think that? How would any of us know if we are already collaborators?

How do you know that your work with someone has reached deep collaboration

Here's how I know. (I think.)
We are making worthy progress toward mutual objectives.

Worthy progress? We are getting somewhere. It's more than talk. We are advancing.

Mutual? Our purposes are aligned. Aren't collaborators simply two folks who are trying to get the same thing done?

Each collaborator surely has other objectives beyond the collaboration. But, within the collaboration, there is at least one common objective.

So, let's start by stating our objectives. And, if we've been working together for a while, let's regularly re-state our objectives. Things change.

Since I'm typing, shall I go first? (If you'd rather go first, be my guest. Stop reading here and send me your objectives. Or start your own blog.)

Here are my objectives.
Are they yours? Scanning my work, the following objectives pop up:

  • In Vistage, I seek to build stronger communities: intra-group, inter-group, All-City, and around the world. How are we working together on this? 
  • Within my budding Gestalt coaching practice and in 121s with Vistage members, I seek to encourage your and my professional and personal growth, self-awareness, effectiveness, and satisfaction. How are we working together on this? 
  • Overall, I seek to develop meaningful employment for others. So that all of us (you, me, your employees) might to do the best, most satisfying work of our careers. How are we working together on this? 

Beyond what quickly appears as work, there are family and community. For starters here…

  • Within our families and other communities, I seek to support development and learning, with an ultimate goal that each of us creates deeper connection and peace, so that all of us might live surrounded by those who love us. How are we working together on this? 
  • In our bodies, I want us to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so that we might enjoy wellness today and live long enough to see our children — and, perchance, our grandchildren — stand beneath the chuppahHow are we working together on this? (This one is listed last, but is most important. Theologies aside, we have to be here to collaborate.)

This seems like a hasty list, but it's a start.

This is all shamelessly self-centered.
I'm listing my objectives, suggesting they you might pick one (hey, collect' em all) as the priority for our collaboration.

But that's not collaboration. That's me becoming your client. And that's not my intention. The intention is balanced, mutually satisfying collaboration. I-THOU.

So, what do you want?
What are your objectives?

And, more broadly, how would you know if we are collaborators?

And how would you answer Mark's question: "In what ways would our relationship need to change that would produce [deeper collaboration]?"