Collaboration relies on the leader of a team or organization to set this tone. There are many examples about the efficiency improvements of collaboration. If you consider outrigger canoe racing, most boats had six or eight paddlers with a person in the back calling the stroke rhythms. What is interesting in outrigger racing is it’s not the strongest paddlers that win but the team that is completely in synch paddling. If one person is out of synch, the effort is lost. Think of the CEO as the caller in back keeping everyone (company and management team) in synch.

Another analogy is how a Canadian geese flock always flies in a V pattern. It is interesting to watch the geese as they “slip stream” or draft off each other, much like in bicycle racing, car racing or even swimming. The goose at the head of the V is always changing; they take turns pulling the flock. In the geese world, the V formation allows them to be 15% more efficient. Meaning that as a collaborating team they can travel farther and faster, than on their own or not working together.

Collaboration in business is a cornerstone of a high performing team. Just look at the proliferation of collaboration software tools and social networks in the last five years. Consider how sites like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn allow people to connect and exchange ideas and information. Collaborating in business on a global basis was the key premise made by Thomas Friedman’s great book “The World is Flat”.

One lesson Michael has learned in business (and life) is the better you are at collaborating with people, the better your business career and the better your life will be. It is easy to say collaboration is the measure of a person in business.

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