How to Collaborate on Projects

ProjectManager.com

In this training video, Jennifer Bridges, PMP, illustrated how projects benefit from collaboration, by offering best practices in cultivating collaborative skills, how to leverage opportunities and ways to improve results.

In Review: How to Collaborate on Projects

As Jennifer said, collaboration is a skill all project managers need to master in order to help their projects to succeed.

Collaborate is a verb, an action word, meaning “to work jointly on an activity to produce or create something.” That something can be creating ideas, solutions, points of views, proposals, reports, arts, science — anything can have opportunity embedded within it.

When it comes to best practices for collaborating on projects, follow these eight steps:

  • Make it easy
  • Be respectful
  • Challenge status quo
  • Actively listen
  • Seek to understand
  • Try new things
  • Use differing approaches
  • Provide tools to aid in productivity

Project managers are the ones who know everything, but, when we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that’s impossible. Part of leadership is knowing when to get help or how to bring a team together for the greater good of the project.

Pro-Tip: There are many ways to collaborate, whether you’re on or off line. For the former, you need to meet often in person. With the latter, that’s not an option, so you have to use social media, webinars, Skype, or, ideally, project collaboration tools to facilitate the process.

Thanks for watching!

Transcription

Hello, I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director of ProjectManager.com. Welcome to our whiteboard session today on how to collaborate on projects. I love this question because, I guess, I love the tools and techniques that are available today to do so. And, I just love collaborating with others because I always find that I can get more information, more, better ideas than I could have possibly come up with myself. It took me a long time to admit it, as a Project Manager, but I think I can finally admit, I don’t know everything, so it is great to be able to leverage the intelligence and experience of others.

So, let’s look up the word collaborate and see what it means. It’s a verb, and it means “to work jointly on an activity to produce or create something.” So, in the project world what would that something be? So, we could be producing or creating ideas, solutions, points of views, proposals, reports, arts, science, anything. So, anything is an opportunity in this set up.

So, if we look at whom we’re collaborating with, these could be different team members and if this is a team member, they could be collaborating with other team members, and their team members could be collaborating with other team members. They bring information in to these different areas and look at all the different points of views or things that can be brought and generated to our project.

So, if you think of Steve Jobs, he was all about thinking differently and he did so successfully and he leveraged collaborating, a lot. And then, I’m not sure if you know who Helen Keller is but she was blind, and she had a quote that, “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.”

So, what would this look like, how do we do it? So, a lot of times we collaborate either off-line, or online. So what does off-line mean? Off-line means, we can do so personally face to face in meetings, or work sessions, or work groups, or conferences where people get together face to face. Versus online, so online available now there’s different social media. Many of you are very active in some of the social media groups where you collaborate on different issues. There are webinars, webinar technology, tele-seminars, there is software, there are even apps now. So, there are so many opportunities available for us to collaborate and again bring more information, more ideas, being able to think differently to our projects.

Some of the best practices that we found in collaborating are these; number one, make it easy, make it easy for people to collaborate with you by providing tools and techniques and easy access. Number two, respect, so when you are soliciting information from others, or getting them to play with you or collaborate with you, you want to respect them, respect their ideas, respect what they bring. Again, we’re purposely trying to think differently. So, when you bring different ideas, something different to you, you want to be able to respect that, and encourage people to participate, otherwise they’ll shut down, or they won’t want to collaborate with you. You want to challenge the status quo. This is an opportunity where you just collaborate. So you’re throwing things out, you are trying to think differently so you’re challenging what’s working, what’s not working. You want to listen, listen to others, really listen to what they’re saying.

Again, you’re bringing different people together for their experience, their expertise, their training, something they’ve done before that you haven’t done. So you want to listen, you want to seek to understand what they’re trying to tell you. The idea that they generate may not be the one idea that you use, but it could spark different information, so seek to understand what they’re trying to relay. And then try things, this is a great opportunity to be able to try things, pilot it, test it, see what works, what doesn’t work. What have you got to lose? And then look at the approach, are we going to start from scratch, so if we collaborate are we trying to generate something new where we’re starting with a blank canvas? Or, are we starting from an example, something existing? So if you think about building a house, are you building a house from scratch, where you get to design the architecture and the blueprints? Or are you starting with a renovation project? Renovating a house, where there’s something existing there? So you start with what’s there and you redesign.

Then you provide to the team members, the people who are collaborating with you. You want to be able to provide tools, you want to be able to provide data, templates, supplies, anything that you need in order to make this session very productive.

So, these are some ideas again and best practices on how to collaborate. We find it very helpful. We think that it helps us think differently and we do, for sure, see that we can do so much more with collaborating with others then we can doing it alone. And I hope this helps you, too. If you’re looking for a tool, or better yet an app to help you collaborate on your projects, then sign up for our software now at Projectmanager.com.

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