The theme throughout April is: The Collaboration Catalyst

There’s a new role that’s instrumental in creativity and innovation, and I call it the “Collaboration Catalyst”.

As we’re seeing more of a need to drive creativity and handle chaos in order to innovate, it takes an individual with a certain set of skills to make this happen. Often, the focus is on those that come up with the ideas, but the Collaboration Catalyst is just as important – they focus on how to make those ideas happen, connecting the dots and bringing projects to a solution.

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Collaboration Catalysts have a natural desire to bring people together because they can see how this can provide benefits in enhancing resources, reducing duplication and increasing impact.  They work across different disciplines, or across departments if within an organisation, and their work depends on them being a drifter.

Amongst other things, a Collaboration Catalyst:

  1. Takes the time to get to know people individually and their key skills
  2. Recognises who should be talking and working together and have a desire to make that work
  3. Spots gaps, identifies any crossovers and works to reduce duplication
  4. Makes connections, sparks conversations and initiates the projects that come out of them
  5. Is comfortable with creative chaos, and can spot the patterns that emerge. Although they might not be generating ideas, they help to make sense of them
  6. Keeps teams motivated, and knows how to bring the best out in people. They also know when to step back and let the team perform
  7. Is aware of when to protect fragile, early-stage ideas, and when they need to be critiqued so that the project can move to the next stage
  8. Sees projects through to the final tangible result.

It’s a dynamic and stimulating role to play, but it can also be hard work! Like good facilitation when it’s done well, it can be somewhat invisible, as the focus is on enhancing the team’s effectiveness. This often means the impact of the Collaboration Catalyst’s efforts is only noticed when the project comes to fruition.  And they can feel pressure from all directions, as they work to manage the power dynamics between highly-skilled people. Part of their role is identifying conflict and helping teams through it.

I’ve recognised the value and importance of this challenging but highly rewarding role, and the specific skills it requires. I’m keen to provide tools and tips for people who find themselves in this position. In my upcoming posts during April, I’ll explore the situational factors that keeps a collaborative project running smoothly, how to build a top creative team, and tips for project kick-offs.  

April Read: Collaboration Ain’t Easy: Stakeholders, Agendas and the Importance of Being Earnest on Mindjet.