Collaboration: two definitions; either, the action of working with someone to produce something; or, traitorous cooperation with an enemy. Being of Norwegian heritage the second definition is the one that lurks worryingly at the back of my mind whenever anyone suggests we collaborate on something together. So, I was all ears and on guard for our melting pot lunch discussion on 19 August about relationships and collaboration.
It turned out that collaboration in the context of health and care, is about working together to produce something.
Phew. Although, we touched on how sometimes it can mean cooperation with enemies, albeit not in a traitorous way, and probably not enemies, rather people you don’t normally work with, from areas you might traditionally be in competition with. It was good to hear others’ experience of collaborative working and to pick up tips for improvement. Our speaker, Dom Riddex, sent a note ahead of the lunch, and kicked things off for us by telling us about work he had done in the Home Office around building relationships in a tricky cross organisational project. Although the subject area was out of our usual scope, it was striking how many similarities there were in the challenges we all face in building good and productive working arrangements.
"Tips included having permission to operate from your boss, so you can be honest about what you can and cannot do; and, allowing others the space to come up with solutions."
Tips shared included: getting everyone together in the same place to meet and shake hands; agreeing ground rules for behaviours and how you will work together; being clear about what you all want to achieve; making time to understand others’ points of view by spending time with them, giving them space to talk and actively listening to them; following through on promises; having permission to operate from your boss, so you can be honest about what you can and cannot do; and, allowing others the space to come up with solutions.
And this is what lies at the heart of melting pot lunches. They’re a chance to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet and talk about subjects you wouldn’t necessarily spend time talking about.
It’s also good fun finding new venues that help to remove us physically and mentally from our workplaces. We have also had great feedback about them. People enjoy meeting bright, sparky people from different backgrounds and chatting about stuff that matters over a pleasant lunch.
They see their time spent with us as a valuable and worthwhile investment. Not just food for thought, but food for the soul too. Now that’s my definition of collaboration.