Let us all agree: Support is not collaboration

Do you want me in a meeting? I’m there.

Do you need my POV on something? I’ll offer it. (sometimes, ok most of the time, unsolicited)

Do you want me to share something on email, social or make a phone call? Done.

All of these actions are supportive.  They offer assistance in order to get something completed. What they are not, is collaborative.

I think a lot of teams, both within a department and across departments believe they have a collaborative relationship simply because they are supportive of one another.  Certainly being supportive of one another is important.  I thrive off of being supported.  Being on an island is no fun, it’s alienating and eventually people get tired of it.

But collaboration is different. Collaboration is solving a problem together.  A shared experience.  It creates a bond, it elevates results and it makes people feel good.  I think if you look at the people in your life you enjoy being around the most, you’ll find they collaborate with you.

Doesn’t matter if it’s what to do on vacation, or how to win a deal.  They sit, work, talk, act and get things done with you.

I love analogies and parables, here’s one to illustrate the point.

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.”A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.”Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on”Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”

The doctor and the priest are supportive. But Joe, he’s collaborating.

Leo McGarry says it better.