To infinity and beyond! Isn’t that a great and energizing phrase? Buzz Lightyear would certainly agree, as it’s his mission: To go further, be stronger, and ultimately be successful. Those of us who know the movie Toy Story can relate to his motivations. But we also recognize the many struggles he faces as some of our own.

Despite the recognized benefits of collaboration, being aligned internally and putting collaboration into practice is often easier said than done. Whether resolving internal issues or launching a new initiative or program, collaboration is about breaking down barriers that hinder progress and replacing them with new ways to work together.

Developing a collaborative culture involves behavior change and relationship building. The creative process that produced the hit movies Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Inside Out offers lessons that can help nonprofits seeking to create collaborative relationships:

  • Establish a safe environment for the exchange of ideas so that fear of failure or rejection is not an issue.
  • Don't take the opinions of others as a personal attack. And conversely, don't make sharing an opinion a personal attack.
  • Be willing to give up control. Collaboration participants must accept input from others and be willing to let go of practices that don't work.
  • Don't succumb to feelings of winning and losing. Give-and-take interaction should produce balanced solutions.
  • Be ready to listen, and prepared to hear the truth and viewpoints that challenge the status quo.
  • Know the difference between criticism and constructive criticism. One tears apart and the other builds.
  • Welcome disagreement as an opportunity to test ideas so the best concepts survive.
  • Schedule progress reports for review and frank evaluation.

Read the full article about collaboration by Hardy Smith at BoardSource.