by: Kelly Fliller

I recently had the opportunity of being in a room with nearly 40 leaders from all different industries and organizations, coming together to discuss ways in which we can make our community the RWJCoalitionJan23healthiest in the state.  Businesses, non-profits, community organizations, police, township officials, school district administrators and health organizations were all represented.  Some of these people could even be considered competitors but as I watched the discussions unfold, I noticed a common theme – everyone was willing to help each other.  When one wins, we all win when it comes to making our community a better place.

Groups that could possibly fight each other for a piece of the pie were talking about how they could work together to make a bigger impact.  It seemed that everyone put aside their own personal gain in order to benefit the community where they work and live.  This is collaboration.

There are so many benefits of working together.  We are used to working with people inside our own organization.  When we work with people outside of our workplace, that is when the magic happens.  Here are a few of the many benefits of collaboration.

1. Creative brainstorming

“The collaboration of nonprofits, educational institutions, and business owners is the stuff that change is made of.” Noelle Carino CEO, Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce

How many times have you sat down to start writing ideas and ten minutes later, the page is still blank? Sitting at the table with others whether they are in the same or different industry, can spark those ideas to flow quicker and easier.  Start with a question relating to why you are all in the same room such as, “What can my business or organization bring to this project?”  You will be surprised at how someone else’s answer can help shape your own and get the conversation going.

2. Seeing things from a different angle

We have a tendency to get “caught in the weeds” when we are working on our own challenges in the workplace.  It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and instead, stay in a single lane with tunnel vision. What better way to get unstuck then to talk to someone else with a different vantage point? As a marketing professional, I’ve had many brain-picking sessions with marketing colleagues, some of which were competitors. I always walked away with new tools to use and a fresh perspective.  This leads to reigniting that spark of motivation and sometimes, you just need someone to listen who understands what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis.

3. Helps with problem solving

As I sat at the meeting with our community leaders, listening to each table discuss how they would approach the same issue, I was amazed at all of the different possibilities. Not only that, but the willingness of people to partner up and work together.  So many professionals were eager to tell their stories of what worked for them and what didn’t, and help their colleagues implement these ideas in their own organizations.

4. Learning how to combine resources for a bigger impact

You may have a great idea but not enough people to carry it out.  Or“In integrative health, we often refer to the process in which we keep people healthy as “taking a village” to do so.  Practitioners, patients, family members, and specialists, are all factors in keeping someone at their most well.  If we take that principle and apply it to our business strategy, rather than focusing on competing with others in our community, the possibilities are truly endless.  Everyone brings something unique to the table, and when a true collaboration occurs everyone wins!” Lisa Wielgomas Community Outreach Manager, Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine perhaps you have the people but not the budget.  Maybe you have a problem to solve but don’t have full knowledge of all the moving parts.  It’s a beautiful thing to witness people getting together and realizing how their piece of the puzzle fits into the bigger picture. Not everyone has the same way of thinking, the same strengths or the same experience, but when we work together, we are capable of a much bigger impact.

Personally, the best part of my career is learning from others and figuring out how we can bring our resources together to work towards a common mission. Even if that partnership doesn’t work out for a specific project, you now have another person in your network and that is a very valuable tool. It’s a great feeling when you can help a person or a cause. It’s an even better feeling when you have other people supporting you!

How has collaboration worked for you?

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