I can tell you now, however, forced collaboration inside cultures is kind of like making everyone participate in “forced fun” activities (oh yay, another birthday “party” in the conference room!). People will do it if there are repercussions for skipping it, but it lacks the power and energy you get when they WANT to do it.
So how do you get people to want to collaborate? One idea is to create what Patrick Lencioni calls a “rallying cry.” He advocates that organizations create a single thematic goal for every time period (maybe a single quarter, maybe a whole year), and that one goal is prioritized as the most important.
That’s going to be a hard one for most associations to swallow, since they’ve spent years convincing themselves that their three pillars of education, networking and advocacy are equally important. But when you clarify the priority, it actually invites collaboration because everyone knows it needs to get done. Although maybe you don’t realize it, this is exactly what most associations do come annual meeting time — we collaborate because the conference is the highest priority.
My two partners and I follow a method from a book called “Traction,” which suggests a similar approach. For our company, we create a set of annual goals and then a very short list of company “rocks” to guide us each quarter. We never have more than three to four measurable rocks (close X number of projects, launch MVP of online platform), even though there are still lots of things that also need to get done that quarter.
While the three of us still spend a lot of time taking care of the business we are assigned to, the shared focus means we are quick to work together on things that advance us towards those shared priorities. The focus spurs the collaboration.
Instead of trying to make everyone collaborate, do the harder work of clarifying priorities. The collaboration will follow.