Everyone knows the old joke about the camel being the result of a committee effort to design a horse. But when you stop to think about it, a camel is actually a very efficient animal, perfectly suited to its environment and its function. Maybe committees take longer to get it done because they make time to hear the opinion of everyone in the group, but I contend that the final outcome is likely to be better.

Collaboration is a skill and a style being used by businesses more now than ever based on the need to make the best use of talent and resources. It is also a way to identify obstacles that could derail a project early in the process before a proverbial train wreck occurs. The popularity of collaboration has also grown in response to the need for employees to be ever mindful of proving and merchandising their worth to the organization. It’s rare to encounter someone at a meeting these days who isn’t prepared and present and contributing to the discussion. Krisztina Holly lauds collaboration in her Business Week story on CERN as the key driver of innovation.

Formalized brainstorming has long been a feature of our agency’s business. The best ideas are put on the table in an effort to arrive at strategic, creative solutions that will persuade specific audiences. In some agencies, collaboration is confined by departments – media, creative, PR, web design, social media. At BKI, we have always benefitted by including someone from each department at what we call our “kickoff,” so that we have a truly integrated perspective on the ideas that will move the market to reach a client’s goals.

In turn, we also applaud clients who employ collaboration in their management and communication efforts. We recently attended a client’s annual planning session along with other communications consultants and in-house department heads. The exchange was energetic and productive. Each group left the session with a prescribed role in a total rollout that will be better than if one of us had done it alone. To many traditionalists, a “group-think” like that may feel uncomfortable and chaotic. But when you experience the positive outcome, you’ve gained a new respect for the camel.

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