What Is Authentic Collaboration?

Blog by Joe Babaian
Let’s think about what it means to work together . We all do it almost every day and I’d venture a guess that we all have experienced varying levels of quality in these collaborations. To formalize it a bit, let’s think of authentic collaboration.  Here’s a personal story that I have just experienced that will help frame our discussion.
Thinking about times I have collaborated in a group. One thing that stood out to me was the effort it took to make collaboration the tool we actually used vs choosing the “easy” way out of letting one or two people make all the decisions. Often some might feel that for the sake of speed and efficiency, one or two leaders can be effective at running things “on the ground” as we might say. This is not only detrimental to desired outcomes but flies in the face of a thoughtful comparison and analysis of these situations. I saw first-hand how once we really dug in and pulled everyone together to collaborate,  so many wonderful things happened! This is just one small example of the power of people working together in an authentic way.
I found this extensive definition by Capacity Builders of Toronto that’s worth a quick read:
A well-defined relationship entered into by two or more different partners (e.g. individuals, organizations, networks) coming together from various sectors, groups and/or communities to achieve common goals. They are characterized by a commitment to building, nurturing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships; joint responsibility and accountability for success; and the sharing of resources and rewards.
Wow, that’s detailed! I would add that “well-defined” is often in the eye of the beholder and less-officially-defined collaborations are still relevant for the purpose of this discussion. What really jumps out to me is:

Commitment to building
Nurturing relationships
Common goals
Joint responsibility
Sharing of resources and rewards

Do we all work toward these key aspects in our everyday connections/collaborations? Collaboration can be as simple as two friends swapping babysitting duties as needed or as complex as several healthcare organizations working jointly to create a translational research center.
With so much time spent interacting online, many of us see the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to collaboration – both very formal and more informal.
The process of authentic collaboration applies most aptly to our patient-provider relationships as well. Ask yourself, do the five bullet points above match your key healthcare relationships? As a patient? A provider? As you can quickly see, any of these that are missing creates the type of relationship dynamic that isn’t ideal.
This week, I want to move beyond communication to think about really working together. All of the myriad ways we come together and share, build,...