How’s this for a typical inspiring sales pitch to the Project Team:

“The purpose of collaboration is to create value that would not otherwise be created by working independently. Lets Collaborate!”.

I’m with you. A bit dry and one dimensional (even if the essence is true!).

Typically we are pitching solely to the minds of project teams on the benefits of making a go of, and, sustaining high performance teams and long term alliances from an organisational perspective.

There is not much of the ‘whats in it for me‘ question being addressed.
Principally the WIFM conversation is an emotion based question/ response and the one that will determine commitment or otherwise to the cause. In their heads the players are asking?

Either what would excite me about getting this team’s act together and what will that produce for me?

Or, if we don’t work collaboratively what horrible stuff is going to happen that’s going to make my life pretty nauseous and stressful?

We don’t talk enough about the heart and what we, the individual might gain by taking a longer view of relationships.

We grow and develop, gradually, catalyzed by others.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants”.
Sir Isaac Newton

When at their best, (or sometimes worst) relationships involve us in attempts to evolve, mature and widen our world view. We often are drawn to people precisely because they have the potential to direct us to a better place.
But the process of our evolution can be slow and messy. We spend periods blaming the other parties for problems which arise from our own shortcomings. We resist attempts at being changed or self enquiry preferring to be accepted ‘for who we are’, with all our quirks – as if this could ever be a good strategy.

It can take months or even years of supportive interest; moments of anxiety, frustration, until genuine Team progress can be made and we see that those who irk us most could actually are the shoulders we need to stand on. (I see this in 5-10 year Framework Teams and long term Alliances).

As smooth seas do not  make skillful sailors monotone relationships do not make for evolved and emotionally aware humans and aware humans make the best team players.

With time, after many disagreements, both parties may begin to see issues from, and because of the others point of view – if they keep the long term personal gain in mind. Slowly we start to get insights into our own limited perspective and intransigence and we become a little easier to work with, more aware and better team players –  because of our colleagues, not despite them. That’s quite a win.

Locked Up For Our Own Good

Being ‘locked into long term relationships’ may create the sense we are handcuffed to people we’d oft rather walk away from. And as we look around for the physical or contractual exit, every way seems blocked. It would cost a fortune, it would be so humiliating to go back on our promises and it would be massively time consuming.

This is the point.

Collaboration is a gigantic restriction of  impulse set up to keep our short term, flaky, quitter, silo seeking self in check.

What we are essentially buying into by submitting to ‘Team First’ is the notion that we as individuals are likely to make very poor choices under the sway of strong short-term impulses. To commit to the Team is to recognise that we require structure and other people to insulate us from impulsive urges and short term gratification. It is, ironically, to lock ourselves up with other people, willingly, because we somehow acknowledge the benefits of the long-term at an intense individual level.

High Performing Teams Help Us Bring Out the Best in Others.

‘Sport is actually the chance to have other human beings push us to excel’.
Mr. Keaton – Dead Poets Society

Like sport, work Teams are the chance to have other people push us to excel and us to push others to excel – which is the the greatest reward and gratification in itself.
The most worthwhile and successful projects require sacrifices from both parties, and it’s in the nature of such sacrifices that we’re most likely to make them for people who are also making them for us.