Lessons Learned When a Collaborative Effort Goes South!

failure to collaborateAs much as I love to collaborate I find it really tough to feel successful unless everyone’s role is clearly defined and we are on the same page. Case in point, I am reeling from a collaborative experience I had last week. I was facilitating a webinar and it didn’t go well. In fact I felt like a complete and utter failure when it was over. Here’s what happened. I was asked to present a business webinar in keeping with the pro bono consulting relationship I have with a nonprofit organization. I have done several of these webinars over the past two years and in my opinion, they have always gone well. Two things have changed. First, the webinar organizer is not the same person I had been working with. In the past, we were simpatico (spoke the same language), there was always discussion and back and forth about the content and delivery so I was clear on my role and what was expected. The current organizer is very pressed for time, she defers to my partner on this project, and we haven’t established a relationship. Simply put, we are not in sync. This is not a blaming statement; I realize I have as much responsibility as she for doing what is takes to get the participants what they need.

The second change is now I have the above mentioned partner in serving this organization. In theory, I am the face to the membership and he is serving the leadership. We are a great team and when there is strife between us we work things out. What I discovered was what occurs when the roles are not clearly defined or one of us steps out of our agreed upon roles. Let’s cycle back to the actual webinar and you’ll see what materialized, from my point of view.

The webinar did not go well for several reasons. What I anticipated didn’t end up happening, meaning my plan went up in smoke and I was thrown off my game. There were interruptions as the organizer was managing the callers. And, my “silent” partner was on the call and when he sensed he could help, he stepped in and took over! Not in a mean or negative way, in fact I think what he offered was excellent, but from my point of view, before I could find my footing, the rug was pulled out from under me and I felt myself falling, falling into the pit of failure!

My lessons learned were these:

1. I have to ask for what I want and not put my needs aside, i.e. stop accommodating the other people 2. I need to be clear with any partners about how I can accept help and give help when one of us has center stage 3. Have well defined roles AND be truly collaborative as a united team (from the onset) 4. Act as though we are in this together and determine how we going to get the bests results 5. When there is poor communication or a lack of communication, it has negative impact