The things that you do on your own may seem significant or insignificant but often they only matter when they involve other people. I’m not saying that you can’t make an impact on your own, but rather the process of bringing other people into the picture give your actions a new sense of meaning.
At work, one of my least favorite experiences is finding out that my colleague has been working on solving the same exact issue that I’m focused on without communicating anything about it. Similarly, in the nonprofit/NGO world, I often discover that different groups of community workers and staff are working out an approach for the same dilemma. Not only are they not sharing ideas, but also they view their ideas as propriety knowledge and aren’t open to collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Why are so many people working in silos to solve the same solution? Aren’t we in the 21st century of “shareability,” where everyone and everything is being talked about in a collaborative way? Partnerships are more important than funding and strategic alliances are booming.
Yet, if you’re a nonprofit, you’re going to do everything that you can possibly do to get access to the right funders, the right networks. And that doesn’t always mean working together with the other nonprofit doing the same thing down the street. If you’re a big consulting firm, propriety information is what sets you apart. Collaboration with other corporations could water down the message you’re trying to send about your core competencies.
In a world where partnerships rule, competition drools. Yet, there are clearly nonprofits and companies who need to wake up to the reality of the world we’re living in. The borders to competitiveness and propriety information are shifting, and in order to be part of something larger than ourselves, we have to work together. Groups can benefit from individual and collective actions.
This begs the question, if you trip in the woods when no one else is looking, is anyone else laughing? Nope, only yourself. But wouldn’t it be nice if someone could share the laugh with you?