Collaboration Tip #2: Fall in love with problems

Adaptive problems are complex, multilayered challenges that call for true collaboration (see Collaboration Tip #1 for an overview of adaptive problems). One common pitfall of collaboration occurs when people come to the table with their solution already designed and ready to go. This might work for some problems—when stakeholders don’t have much skin in the game, they’re often willing to provide resources for a pre-designed solution or to select one from a list of a few options. Sometimes partners are satisfied with giving input to a mostly finished design that only needs a couple of final tweaks.

"Too often we become advocates for our own solutions instead of problem solvers."

However, partners increasingly want to be involved in shaping solutions if they are committing resources. Furthermore, adaptive problems—which have multiple causes, multiple possible solutions, and multiple owners for both the causes and the solutions—require the intimate involvement of stakeholders from the very beginning. In other words, they call for true co-creation. At this level of collaboration, we want all stakeholders to fall in love with the problem before we fall in love with our solutions. If we “over bake” an idea before involving our partners, we can miss the opportunity to achieve transformation.

Too often we become advocates instead of problem solvers. We can create a space for true co-creation by stepping back, really understanding the problem, and investing our egos in solving it – and not in pushing for our pre-conceived solution.

Spotlight On: Honey Bee Health

American honey bees are in trouble, and their predicament threatens our food supply. Modern American agriculture relies on many highly specialized and interdependent roles, including farmers, researchers, beekeepers, agrochemical manufacturers, and government agencies. Each of these actors owns a part of the problem, and all are necessary to execute a meaningful solution. In order to tackle the complex problem of honey bee health, the Honey Bee Health Coalition brings all of these stakeholders to the table to agree on the problems first – and then co-create solutions together.

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The course was great! Great value and great insights into collaborating with various partners in multiple situations. It really change my thought process and how I view situations with our clients and stakeholders. - CollaborateUp Academy Participant
I soon discovered that it doesn’t really matter whether your introduction to CollaborateUp is through an issue solving workshop, or at an event as Richard brings all the chaos together with his savvy charm and good humour - the most important thing is that you get to engage and work with these great folks! My biggest take out over the past five years of being a part of their world – collaboration is a process and you’re not going to get very far unless you know what problem you’re all trying to solve together. The CollaborateUp framework helps by asking simple questions to help reveal the big answers. - Cate O’Kane, Founder, &co partnership consultancy
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The course actually aids with more than just collaboration - it helps drive thinking into issue clarification, meeting handling and setting up, communicating with stakeholders. I loved it! - CollaborateUp Academy Participant
“Even with a diverse set of stakeholders and a very limited timeframe, the CollaborateUp Formula allowed us cut through a complex set of issues and develop a concrete and pragmatic proposal for tackling a very tough problem. Richard Crespin is exactly what you want in a facilitator, someone able to bring people together to recognize their shared goals and the best ways to achieve them.” - Amit Ronen Director, George Washington University Solar Institute