What’s the Purpose of Your Collaboration?

alexgarciatopeteInnovation, Research Leave a Comment

Whether in industry, non-profits, or some other sector of society in which you’re trying to have an impact, professional collaboration stands out as a way to get to better futures faster and better.

Collaboration is meant to multiply the value and the impact of the work done. When collaborations go hybrid, venturing beyond the boundaries of organizations, industries, institutions, publics, and sectors of society, then their impact and value can be ranked among seven categories, as research as consistently shown[1].


Collaborations with a purpose to innovate should aim for:

  • Have a patent awarded, filed or pending.
  • Re-imagine business/economic activity.
  • Create a new methodology that will be used/followed by others.


Collaborations set up to explore (rather than exploit) new ideas should aim for:

  • Consistent work beyond the “area of comfort” of collaborators.
  • Engage with dissimilar publics and unfamiliar environments.


Collaborations seeking to educate succeed when:

  • There’s an established curricula or program.
  • The educational elements are contained within another offering (such as entertainment).


Collaborations that aspire to bridge communities must:

  • Give a name to the effort or community that people can identify.
  • Develop a shared language.
  • Use metaphors to draw attention to commonalities across groups.


Collaborations meant to engage the public(s) beyond the standard audiences do so by:

  • Capturing the imagination through familiarity and surprise.
  • Making the core content/message accessible to non-experts.
  • Showcase impacts and influences beyond the point of origin.


Collaborations challenging the status quo work best by:

  • Providing alternative futures beyond present corrections and flaws.
  • Using contrasting comparisons to generate new perspectives.
  • Selectively combining emotion, humor, and reason to draw the questions.


Collaborations that prompt pioneers succeed when:

  • Think long-term to beat the tests of time.
  • Dare to be first in a field that doesn’t exist yet.
  • Turn others into followers of that new field.

How will you design the purpose of your collaborations?

[1] Garcia Topete, Alex, Roger F. Malina, Carol Strohecker, and Robert Thill. 2017. “SEAD Exemplars: Evidence of the Value of Transdisciplinary Projects.” SEAD Committee.

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