Offensive Briefing #9: Collaboration [HIM]

By Steven Kelly (aka "Peter")

FD/MM/FM; ML#3793; August 2009

1. I hope the information on networking in the last Offensive Briefing was helpful to you. In this issue we'll talk about collaboration—which in many cases is related to and builds on networking, and a number of the same principles apply.

2. Networking will often lead to collaboration. It will frequently be those within your network—which includes your friends, contacts, and acquaintances; those you are ministering to or working with; people who know you, trust you, and appreciate what you have to offer—who you are likely to collaborate with on a project. Whether they host a project that could use your expertise, or you embark on a project that they are interested in and that would benefit them to be involved with, a partnership is made based on your mutual interests. (Note: For more on networking and collaborating with a variety of people, see "Offensive Briefing #8," ML #3789:11-16, GN 1291.)

3. Collaboration can in turn lead to expanding the network of people you stay in touch with, or whom you feed spiritually, or work with in some capacity. As you collaborate with individuals or organizations on a project, you will meet more people that you can add to your network and/or collaborate with in the future.

Collaboration is multiplication.—John C. Maxwell

Collaboration Defined

A cooperative arrangement in which two or more parties (who may or may not have any previous relationship) work jointly toward a common goal.—

To work with someone else for a special purpose.—Cambridge International Dictionary of English

Work with others: to work with another person or group in order to achieve something.—Encarta

Collaboration is the act (or process) of "shared creation" or discovery. Collaborative people are those who identify a possibility and recognize that their own view, perspective, or talent is not enough to make it a reality. They need other views, perspectives, and talents. Collaborative people see others not as creatures who force them to compromise, but as colleagues who can help them amplify their talents and skills.—Robert Hargrove, Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration

4. A collaborative effort might look something like this: A friend of yours wants to train his company employees in volunteerism. You have a charitable project that he's interested in, so he sends company employees to help staff the project, and pays you to train them and direct them in executing it.

5. In another example, a friend has an event-hosting business, and he asks you to provide entertainment for the children at the events—performances or arts and crafts activities. The entertainment you provide enhances his events, which is good for his business and which he's happy about. He's also happy about the positive atmosphere you help to create at the event and the good impact it has on the children. You have an opportunity to witness to the children (through your example if nothing else, even if you can't openly "witness" to them or pray with them there); you receive financial support in exchange for your participation; you're advertised as the Family, providing exposure and name recognition for you, as well as an opportunity to meet people that you might not otherwise have access to, who you can witness to and follow up on and possibly network with, all of which you're happy about.

6. A good example of collaboration was a Family event held in Mexico last Christmas. A Home hosted a benefit dinner for their friends and contacts, and invited a few prestigious local restaurants to set up buffets. The Family benefited from receiving complimentary quality catering for their benefit dinner, and the restaurants benefited from the free advertising and positive promotion of their specialties to potential new clientele, since the Family's guests included a number of top people in the city. A local artist also agreed to come to the event and do a painting on the spot, which was auctioned, and the profits were divided equally between the Family and the artist. It benefited the artist to have his work seen by potential customers, and the funds raised benefited the Family and helped toward the cost of the event.

7. You probably already collaborate on some levels with those you are ministering to. However, you may find that the Lord will lead you to put more emphasis on collaboration as you pursue new and different ways to accomplish the mission more effectively and efficiently.

8. Collaboration can be a "slow-growing fruit." It may take time for your efforts to pay off. In addition, a collaborative effort may require that you invest some time in activities which wouldn't strictly be classed as witnessing, although through your collaboration you are developing opportunities by which you can fulfill the mission. In the past, we have been quite guarded about collaborating on projects or business ventures that included activities other than pure witnessing.

9. However, through collaboration we can multiply our efforts far beyond what we'd be capable of on our own. In looking at how your local work can become more successful, and in seeking for ways to spread the message further and faster, we encourage you to look at collaboration opportunities as potential avenues for doing just that—being more effective, fruitful, and far-reaching in your witness on the long term. Of course, for such ventures to be successful and worthwhile, you have to maintain focus on the goals of the mission; your collaboration efforts should be helping you to reach those goals in some way, whether directly or indirectly.

10. Collaboration provides a platform for greater success and effectiveness. It may not be in the form of a direct witness getting to more people immediately; it could be through providing credibility for your local work, visas, prestige or recognition, financial stability, an avenue to reach the influential and the business circles in your city, who can open doors for you and your mission, opportunities to promote the Family, helping your local work to become known as a force for good, opening new doors for witnessing, etc. Through collaborating, you can multiply your influence, your avenues for getting out the message, and your resources; you will have the opportunity to minister to people, who, through their influence, can facilitate the message being spread even further.

11. Collaborating is becoming more popular and sought after in the world as well—in business circles, as well as in academia and the arts.

The age of the genius is long past. We are all very smart people. But today, given the complexity of the process, "genius" comes from the minds of lots of smart [people] working together rather than just one of them.—David Kelly of David Kelly Designs

One of the primary tasks of management in the years ahead is to be able to frame goals and problems in a way that inspires people to collaborate as opposed to doing their own thing or defending their own turf.—Michael Schrage, No More Teams

Doctors Without Borders regularly recruits top physicians, nurses, and other volunteers from all over the world. The objective is not to prove how great they are in their own specialty, but to eliminate suffering—whether it takes the form of a cleft lip and palate in need of surgery, a hungry child, or a burned village with people in need of new shelter.—Robert Hargrove, Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration

For smart companies, the rising tide of mass collaboration offers vast opportunity. Companies can reach beyond their walls to sow the seeds of innovation and harvest a bountiful crop. Indeed, firms that cultivate nimble, trust-based relationships with external collaborators are positioned to form vibrant business ecosystems that create value more effectively than hierarchically organized businesses.

Mass collaboration across borders, disciplines, and cultures is at once economical and enjoyable. We can peer produce an operating system, an encyclopedia, the media, a mutual fund, and even physical things like a motorcycle.

The playing field has been ripped wide open, and the recurrent need to reconfigure people and capabilities to serve an ever-changing market will require individuals to embrace constant change and renewal in their careers. … The times are, in fact, a changin'.—Don Tapscoot and Anthony D. Williams, Wikinomics

Why Collaborate?

It multiplies your efforts

12. The beauty of collaboration is that it draws people together from different walks of life, with varied skill sets and diverse means, to focus their skills and resources on a common cause or project. In doing so, the results can be more far-reaching than an individual's efforts, or the efforts of those within a single group, would produce.

13. In the Offensive, we're seeking greater fruit, and a variety of it, and collaboration can multiply your efforts so that you can accomplish more. Collaboration can provide you with unique witnessing opportunities as well as openings to distribute Family products or to minister spiritually to people you might not be able to reach otherwise. It can highlight your ministries to change lives and to change the world, and thus help you to garner greater credibility in your community, and to promote your local work and the Family. It can help you to consolidate friendships and long-term relationships with contacts and supporters, who in turn will continue to support and promote your work within their spheres of influence. It can lead to referrals and new open doors that might not have been available to you otherwise. It can provide sponsorship and resources for projects that might not have otherwise been possible for you to undertake.

It helps to build relationships

14. In trying to meet and minister spiritually to the wealthy and influential, you will often find that it's easier to reach them if you're willing to collaborate with them on projects that matter to them. They may provide support, friendship, protection, resources, referrals, or other benefits that contribute to the mission, and you will also need to be willing to give to them—not just on a spiritual level, but also in practical ways at times.

15. For example, if you are acquainted with a top lawyer who donates his services to your Home, he may ask you to assist him in a project by doing research, or helping with his work in other ways. Perhaps he needs to participate in a charitable work as a part of maintaining his public image and wants to collaborate with you on a project—with you doing most of the work and him getting a lot of the credit.

16. Or you may have a close friend who supports the Home and has a property that he would like to donate to you with certain stipulations. He would like to sponsor weekly literacy classes for underprivileged children in the community, and would like one room of the house to be devoted to that, and for Family members to organize the program.

17. Or perhaps you have a supporter who works for the government. He asks for your help in hosting a monthly event, because he knows that you are good at communicating with people. You commit to attending a function once a month to meet people and to help promote your friend's work. Meanwhile, you are able to explain your mission and work, and this enables you to meet important people who may be able to help to further your mission or who you can witness to, while consolidating your relationship with your friend in the government.

18. We need supporters in order to be free to carry out the mission, but not many people in the world are willing to give with no strings attached. While you do need to be careful about becoming tied down to a project that is unfruitful and draining and not benefiting the mission, there are many opportunities where collaborating with friends, acquaintances, and supporters could open more doors to accomplish the mission, and could also strengthen your ties with the people who are giving to you and to the Lord's work.

19. We need to change the attitude that we sometimes have that people should give to us and expect nothing from us in return, or the mindset that if we are feeding someone spiritually, then that is all they will ever need from us, and they should never expect anything more from us. When we look for supporters and colleagues to help us to accomplish the mission, we have to be willing to also support them in the ways that they want to be supported. Sharing Jesus' love and spiritual truths with them are among the most valuable gifts we can offer, and what will reap the most lasting dividends, along with giving friendship and time, but we should also be willing to help them or to give to them in other ways that they would appreciate, including in practical ways, such as with their business, with family events, making it possible for them to participate in our projects for the sake of their public image, etc.

20. Our primary job is to further the mission, and we want to minister to our friends and contacts spiritually because we care about their souls. That's very important, and we cannot neglect it. But sometimes the way in which they will come to best understand the Lord's love, and our love and sincerity and commitment, is through a tangible manifestation of our love and commitment and unselfishness. People often need to see a practical example of God's love in action in order for them to believe it. They want to see a tangible manifestation of the Lord's love and your love. Collaboration can be a very constructive avenue for showing that love—through your willingness to help them with some of their projects or endeavors, or even in personal or family-oriented business.

21. If you want to build a solid base of support for your Home and work, a willingness to collaborate is crucial. Many people, especially those who are well off and savvy in business, will test you to see if you're a worthy investment of their resources. If you only push your program without being attuned to their interests and the causes that they have devoted their lives to, you may not get very far. They may ask you to first help them in some way, or to put forth a specific effort, before they decide to give to you or become solid supporters or protectors. That's just how the well-to-do are. Most are fairly shrewd and careful judges of character, and they may put you to the test to see if you have a genuine interest in the things that matter to them, by asking you to collaborate or help them with one of their projects.

It is viable financially

22. Collaboration has the potential to open new avenues of support for your Home and work. It can not only multiply your witness and efforts to accomplish the mission, but it can also help to finance the mission. Sometimes the offers will be in line with a traditional witnessing method or mission-related delivery system—such as performances for events, funding for specific charitable works, or sponsorship of Family products for the underprivileged, etc. Other times they might be more unconventional or even seem like a short-term secular job. For example, a friend or contact offers to pay a Family member to set up a website for their company and to organize their company's database.

23. In the past we have looked at most collaboration offers along these lines as something that we should stay away from in order to give our best efforts to accomplishing the mission. How we invest our time remains a very important consideration. You have little time, and your gifts and labor are extremely valuable. But we need to broaden our horizons to see that, in some cases, being willing to collaborate with someone on a specific project may not only provide funding that enables you to further the mission and carry out your projects, but also provides unique opportunities to meet key people, to witness, build lasting friendships and enlarge your network, and open doors to further opportunities, even if the project doesn't fall within typical witnessing parameters. An opportunity for collaboration may end up being something that consolidates your friendship and relationship with someone who has been waiting to see tangible proof that investing in your mission is well worth it. They may become more willing to support you financially while you continue to venture out into more opportunities together.

24. We encourage you to ask the Lord to bring along opportunities that are not only mission-related and that open new doors, but that also provide funding. Being open to considering these opportunities, even if they might not fall under conventional witnessing methods, may broaden your possibilities for financing your work, and also broaden the means the Lord can use to put you in touch with people who need the witness and who can open yet more doors for furthering the mission.

Principles of Collaboration

Love is what you're offering, and love is why you're offering it.

25. Something we cannot emphasize enough is the foundation of love which is at the heart of our mission, and should be clearly visible through our witness, our interactions, and our collaboration efforts. While collaboration in the world is often no more than a business deal, rarely will it ever be "just business" in our case, as people know that we're giving our lives to the Lord and others, and they expect us to manifest love and integrity.

26. We need to capitalize on what we have to offer. Above all, more important than professionalism, skills, or measurable talents, what we have to offer is Jesus and His love for people, which is largely manifested in our kindness, unselfishness, and caring spirit for others.

27. One of the ways in which we can manifest this is by showing an interest in the things that are important to other people, and not being so focused on our own agenda or accomplishing the mission that we are insensitive to the goals and agenda of others. If we're going to build friendships with people, we have to show a genuine interest in the things that matter to them.

28. Your collaborative relationships will differ from collaboration arrangements or relationships in the world, because in addition to expecting professionalism, integrity, and a good work ethic from you, your contacts also need to receive the Lord's love from you. Beyond the mechanics of business and teamworking on a project, you have a responsibility to be a testimony of the Lord's love to them and a good reflection on the Family.

29. If we are showing the Lord's love in tangible, relatable ways that benefit our friends and contacts, we will benefit in turn. Our motives for entering into collaborative ventures can't be solely to benefit ourselves, or to meet our need for finances or support or credibility in the community. We have to genuinely care for the individuals involved and do what we can to meet their spiritual needs, show them the Lord's love, and help them get to know Him better through their relationship with us.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.—Maya Angelou

All that matters is people. You'll spend your life paying or profiting from how you treat 'em.—Dr. James T. Denton

(Dad:) If you sow love, you're going to reap love. If you sow friendship, you're going to reap friendship (ML #607:21).

(Dad:) Show them such unselfish love and concern that they couldn't think more highly of you, and they'll love you more than they ever loved anyone, because you're like the Lord, but they don't know it. They don't know what it is, but you've got something they've been searching for all their lives and that they need desperately (ML #293:7).

(Dad:) It's not good enough to just talk about love—Jesus said you have to have love, you have to live love. The Lord knew that many would come in His name and talk about love. But He knew one way the world would know who is right and who is wrong would be by the love they had between one another. Jesus said, "By this will all men know—if you have love one to another." The Lord knew that in the sample there would be no denying it—if you have love one to another, then all men would know you are His disciples.

Samples sell sermons, beloved! … Never before in the world's history has there been a need like there is today for the nations to see love put into action—the proof of the pudding! In this world of confusion and deception, of scheming and sly words, of false fronts and cover-ups, never in all of history has there been such a need for seeing the truth—not only seeing the truth in the written Word, but seeing it backed up with loving action (ML #3150:47,52).

(Peter:) We are salesmen and saleswomen for God. We're selling people on our product—Jesus. We're selling them on His love, His salvation, His power, His presence, and His truth. Our goal is that what we're selling will make its way into every household in the world, and it starts with us being good salesmen and women (ML #3682:201,207).

Integrity and ethics

30. Integrity is a crucial cornerstone of successful collaboration. People who ask us to collaborate on projects will generally do so knowing that we are Christians, members of the Family, and serving the Lord. A breach of ethics or lack of integrity would be detrimental in any circumstance, but because of what we believe and do, the damage would be serious. It would result in a very poor testimony and would undo your witness and good works. Most harmful of all, it could result in someone's faith in the Lord and growth in Him being destroyed because they see you as a hypocrite.

31. It's important to build a relationship of trust with those you collaborate with. It takes love, professionalism, honesty, transparency, flexibility and a willingness to help others in their time of need. It also takes time.

The more credible you are, the more confidence people place in you, thereby allowing you the privilege of influencing their lives. The less credible you are, the less confidence people place in you, and the more quickly you lose your position of influence.

Let's look at some reasons why integrity is so important:

Integrity builds trust

Dwight Eisenhower said, "In order to be a leader, a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. … If a man's associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose."

Integrity results in a solid reputation, not just image

Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are. Image promises much but produces little. Integrity never disappoints.

—John Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You

(Jesus:) You should be known for your integrity, honesty, and fairness. You should be known for love and truth. You should be known for doing the right thing, for making choices according to your conviction, even to your own hurt. You should be known to be like Me, the Man Who was known for going about everywhere doing good (ML #3364:140).

(Jesus:) Practice being truth-speakers, people of integrity, people who can be counted on to deal with each other and those of the world honestly, squarely, fairly, and with the complete truth…. That's a good sample of Me, a good reflection of Me (ML #3505:76).

(Jesus:) Professionalism—especially in your calling of reaching the world for Me—is all about love. You cannot do it without great love, exercised love, sacrificial love. Here are some of the words that describe professionalism in My book: excellence, sacrifice, prayerfulness, diligence, integrity, courtesy, trustworthiness, kindness, perseverance, determination. Basically, professionalism is being the best you can be.

A true professional excels. When you get down to the habits of professionals and what distinguishes them from others, so much of it has to do with their willingness to put the priorities of their work above their personal preferences; their willingness to sacrifice in order to get the job done, and their willingness to treat others with consideration and courtesy. So much of it is based on being trustworthy, upright, dependable, and excelling in your field. And what motivates you to do those things, to fulfill your calling as a missionary?—Love!

If you want to excel with people, you have to treat them with love. Being a professional in your line of work means being expert in love. … It means meeting the multitude of needs that you face each day with My love. It means adapting, sacrificing, stretching, growing in love. It means applying love in the many varied and beautiful ways that are called for in your line of work.

If you want to succeed, love! If you want to be professional, learn to be more loving. If you want to win the world, love is your secret weapon (ML #3733:19-22,24).

Count the cost, and deliver as promised

32. Related to integrity and ethics, when entering into a collaborative venture, it's important to carefully consider whether you will be able to deliver—professionally, on time, and with the needed expertise—whatever you've committed to. The other party will be counting on you to follow through with your commitment. It's hard to measure the extent of the damage that will be done to your reputation and future opportunities if you're unable to fulfill a commitment and it leaves the other party in the lurch. Count the cost beforehand, and avoid overextending yourself.

Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you're going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.—Maria Razumich-Zec, regional vice-president of Peninsula Hotels, USA

Professionalism in your work ethic

33. When you move into the realm of collaboration, you have to put aside any unprofessional, disorganized, or "fly by the seat of your pants" modus operandi. Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect, but the world doesn't operate on the premise of "unconditional love," where you'll be loved and forgiven and given another chance no matter what you do or how badly you mess up. If you're unreliable or embarrass your contacts, or cause them to be seen in an unfavorable light due to a lack of professionalism and planning on your part, it's unlikely that they will be eager to collaborate with you again.

34. Most people in the world have had to work very hard to climb the ladder of success. They've generally gotten where they are through dedication, study, hard work, sacrifice, and a tremendous amount of self-discipline and focus on their career. They will expect nothing less from you.

35. In the Family we have more of a casual, informal culture. However, if we take that same approach with those we're collaborating with, we run the risk of losing valuable opportunities.

36. Collaborative ventures will generally require that you operate with a high degree of professionalism. It will cost you in terms of the work and time it requires to pull off your commitments professionally. It will require you to make a plan and then diligently enact that plan. You won't be able to operate on inspiration and natural abilities alone, or think that the Lord will help things to somehow come together at the end, if you haven't done your part. It will require dedicating hours of work to planning and execution. It will require learning and/or rehearsing any aspects of the plan that you aren't accomplished in, to ensure that you can pull it off professionally. You will need to be thorough and check and double-check the details.

37. A good work ethic is hugely important to successful people. It's not a personality trait, though it comes easier to some people than others. Good work ethic is a quality that you learn and hone, just like self-discipline. If you're going to enter into collaboration, you'll want to take an honest, hard look at your work ethic and see if it will withstand the scrutiny of someone who holds himself to good work ethic principles and expects the same of those he works with.

38. Having a good work ethic is part of our testimony as the Lord's representatives, and it's also part of love. Some people need to see love manifested through your hard work, integrity, concern for them and their interests, and willingness to go the extra mile when necessary. If you're not willing to work hard to live up to the requirements listed above, don't bother to get involved in collaboration.

Collaboration is a team effort, but sometimes it will need a "face" out front

39. Collaboration can open unique doors for fulfilling the mission, sometimes providing a delivery system to bring the message to people you couldn't otherwise reach. Something we need to adjust our thinking on is how to react to opportunities that put a single "face" out front. Sometimes an opportunity to further the mission will arise that is built around one or a few key individuals playing a specific and prominent role, which can lead to their becoming well-known personalities or even celebrities.

40. An example of that is the music ministry that some Family members in Thailand are involved in. Jonas and Christy are nationally famous for being foreigners who have mastered the difficult lukthoong style of Thai folk music. Through their celebrity status, many doors are opened to the Family and a lot of witness goes out. Jonas and Christy are the ones that people recognize and know best, but through Jonas and Christy's testimony, the Family is also recognized and received.

41. Jeremy Spencer's music ministry is another example of a collaborative venture based around a celebrity-style personality that started small and has started to bear quite a bit of fruit. Besides participating in three concerts in India during the '90s, Jeremy started playing publicly again several years ago in low-key venues and eventually with a nationally respected Norwegian blues band. Gradually, he has built a network of people who like to work with him, and the opportunities and offers are growing. While he doesn't announce his Family membership from the stage, he does highlight the Family and his personal faith in the many interviews he has done, and in his personal witnessing and interaction with those the Lord puts on his path. People see him, know him, appreciate his talent, and they inevitably come to learn that he's in the Family, a fact that many who are familiar with his music already know. His example and his skill in music gives the Family a good name, without his having to publicly promote the Family or our good works.

42. Another example is Aaron Berg and the "Live Right" foundation in Taiwan. Aaron and team explained that they initially struggled with whether it was okay for Aaron to be so up front as a personality. In the Family we have often avoided highlighting an individual and have generally presented ourselves as a team in order to avoid creating a "cult of the personality," as Dad called it. It's not our aim to start "personality cults," but, in some cases, as you step out to try new methods and approaches to getting out the message, the work may need a person who becomes the face of the project. In Aaron's case, it's his cancer survival story and promotion of healthy living that catches people's interest. While he is able to capitalize on it and witness about the Lord and the Family, people may initially be more interested in hearing about him and his personal experience than about the missionary group or work that he's a part of.

43. For another example, one person may be very gifted at teaching seminars on a certain topic, and though the material is written and compiled by a team, and the entire Home is backing the effort, the person who teaches gets a lot of the credit and may become somewhat famous or acclaimed. That doesn't mean that the success belongs only to that one person; it's a win for the whole Home, and all parties share in the credit for making it happen. It doesn't matter which individuals the public might know about and which ones they don't, as long as the mission is being accomplished (which requires a team effort).

44. Mama and I want to encourage you not to worry if it seems that a work or collaborative venture develops in such a way that one person is the face of the project or organization. As long as there is strong unity and everyone remains open to shepherding and operates in counsel, you shouldn't worry. If you're doing what the Lord has shown you to do to engage in the mission, trust Him and have faith to follow His lead. It's about the mission and for the mission—however we can accomplish that best!

45. Along the same lines, if you meet a contact who wants to collaborate with you, be open and honest about who might be able to best meet this person's needs. It might not be you. It might not even be your Home. It might be another Home or team in the area. In the past, some Family members have been very cautious or guarded about sharing contacts, but that's an area we'll need to make progress in if we're going to accomplish the mission in the ways the Lord wants us to! We're going to need to network or collaborate much more with each other and other Family members too.

Good communication is a must

46. In the course of working with various individuals and organizations, you may find that, aside from holding to their national culture, many companies have their own culture and values and approach to getting things done—and they may be quite different from yours. Their expectations will be different, their moral code may be different, and you may be looking at a project in two very different ways.

47. In order to be successful, especially if the project is long term or more than a simple event, you will need to give time, thought, and prayer to good communication. It helps if you have someone on your team who is skilled in communicating with people, who can be an effective liaison, who can recognize and adapt to the needs and expectations of the other party. You can look at it almost like a translating ministry—translating the other party's needs into your language, and translating your needs into their language, and helping to bring about understanding and consensus.

48. Of course, the One Who is the expert on all things related to communication and human nature is Jesus, and we are blessed to have His counsel whenever we ask for it. Don't hesitate to tap in to His wealth of wisdom and counsel when discussing and praying about how to best minister to your friends, meet their needs, or proceed in your collaborative ventures.

49. In order to work well with the other party, it's essential that you recognize and appreciate what they bring to the project that you don't have, to recognize the value that they give to the project, and that the opportunity might not even exist without their help and collaboration. It's important to have the right frame of mind when collaborating. You don't own the project or have the freedom to make unilateral decisions—unless that is the arrangement, but that would likely be rare.

The people in liaison roles possessed a good sense of humor, were easygoing, demonstrated enthusiasm, had a positive attitude, and the like. In other words, they all seemed to possess good interpersonal skills. One of the most important components of interpersonal competence is what we refer to as "lateral skills," which encompass the ability to "work effectively with people of different functional backgrounds, work experiences, knowledge bases and skills" (Mankin, Cohen, and Bikson, 1996).

… Several qualities—empathy, openness, and the ability to respect and appreciate the different competencies and perspectives that others bring to successful collaborations—may be associated with good lateral skills.—Don Mankin and Susan G. Cohen, Business Without Boundaries

The endeavor should be mutually profitable

50. In true collaboration, there is give and take. Both parties benefit from the collaboration.

51. As the Lord's representatives, our job, at its very core, centers around being loving and giving—giving Jesus to others and being a living example of His love. We also have a responsibility to advance the mission, and we need to be judicious about the ventures we take on. When you are faced with an opportunity to collaborate, ask yourself (and discuss as a Home, and ask the Lord) a few key questions to determine whether it's important for you to accept the opportunity or not, and whether it's the right time. For example:

52. * How can this further the mission? What would the benefits be to the Home or our work? For example, financial, or community support, or recognition, or opportunities to build your network or consolidate relationships with key people. Remember that some benefits are not immediate but develop over the long term, and those are important too.

53. * Can we afford the manpower and resources that we'll need to invest in order to make this a success? Can we absorb the increase of work and preparation that will be part of the project? (This is a "count the cost" question, to determine whether you'll be able to deliver in whatever measure you commit to.)

54. * How important is it to the person who is asking? Will it be a bad example or become a sore point in our future relationship with them if we decline?

55. * Can we afford not to do this? Sometimes there is an opportunity that will tax your Home or resources or personnel, and you might not have "extra" to give. But it might also be an opportunity that doesn't come around very often, and you can't afford not to take it. There can't be too many of those, of course, or it will overtax your Home. But you should make allowance for some, because some opportunities only come once, and if you want to be as successful as possible, sometimes you will have to seize the day when that one-time opportunity comes around. That will often mean that something else on your agenda has to go, at least temporarily, in order to make room for this new venture. It's not usually realistic to do everything you're already doing or planning and to take on a major addition as well, and be professional on all fronts.

56. Some opportunities for collaboration will be more of a long-term investment than others. Some will be an opportunity to give to the community, which is not only part of your testimony and an opportunity to fulfill the mission, but also an investment in the good will of the community toward your long-term work.

57. In any case, when you enter into collaborative ventures, there should be something about the project that the Lord confirms is beneficial to your work and that makes it worth your time. It should help to advance the mission, either by making you better known in the community as a force for good, putting you in touch with people who would be hard to reach otherwise, bringing in financial support, building relationships with people who have helped you in the past or could help you in the future, or supporting someone who supports you and showing them the Lord's love, to name a few. In some way, the project should accrue to your benefit; you should receive credit for it; or it should further the mission and help you in building your local work.

58. Collaboration isn't about donating immense amounts of time with no payback. If you're involved in a collaborative venture that doesn't seem to be benefiting you or bearing good fruit, ask the Lord about it and evaluate it together as a Home. Don't be afraid to face the facts if it's not turning out the way you had anticipated, or is draining time and personnel from more fruitful ventures. Consider that some ventures take extended time to bear fruit, and ask the Lord specifically whether this is one of them. But if the answer is no, then seeing that clearly is an important step in knowing how to redirect your efforts in the future.

59. This is also true of the other party involved in a collaborative venture: Your collaborative efforts should benefit them. In order to be successful in collaborating, you have to be open to giving and investing your time in ways that will mean the most to the person you're partnering with. You can't go into a venture thinking solely about what it will do for you or your Home or your work. If your sole focus is on what you need from the venture, you won't have a clear perspective and will possibly wind up offending your partner in the project. Unselfishness in networking and collaborating is a vital quality—especially in our case, as the Lord's representatives.

60. If you want to be professional, go into your collaborative ventures with a balanced perspective, and regularly evaluate whether the other person is also getting what they need from the arrangement. It's part of your testimony.

Partner with people who have similar goals

61. All parties in a collaborative effort should recognize that they can better achieve their individual goals by working together to achieve their shared goals. For example, your goal in collaborating might be to meet a certain type of person and have the opportunity to give them a witness, or to garner financial support for your mission endeavors. Someone else involved in the collaboration may have the goal of generating greater publicity for themselves or their company by being a force for good.

62. The capabilities and skills of the different parties involved in the collaboration should complement one another and make the shared goal achievable.

For people to collaborate, they must see the goal as significant and as something they cannot achieve on their own.—Robert Hargrove, Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration

Collaborative ventures should further the mission

63. Our core purpose is to further the mission. There are many steps that we have to take in order to accomplish that—such as raising finances, helping people to understand our goals, receiving recognition for the work we do so that others can see our testimony, etc. Those things are all for the purpose of accomplishing the mission.

64. As you enter into a collaborative venture, think about how it will help you to better accomplish the mission. Keep bringing it back to that touchstone. Will the time, effort and work that is required pay off in ways that will benefit the mission, or that will enhance your ability to fulfill the mission?

65. That doesn't mean that it has to boost your efforts immediately. Some investments take time to pay off. Sometimes you'll enter into a collaborative venture without knowing exactly where it will lead. If you consider it carefully and the Lord gives you the faith to go ahead, that's an acceptable risk. You should regularly evaluate the projects that you are putting time, manpower, resources, and effort into, and ask yourself whether they are helping you to fulfill the mission. If they aren't, and the Lord confirms they will not do so in the future either, are there adjustments you can make so that they will help you to fulfill the mission? Or would it be better to invest your efforts elsewhere? (See also ML #3776:33-45.)

Be willing to play a supporting role

66. Sometimes you, or the Family as an organization, will get a lot of credit or recognition for your part in the endeavor; other times the other party might get most of the credit, while you will get very little. That's to be expected.

67. Even though your goal is to further the mission, you might find that the Lord gives you some opportunities for collaboration that don't necessarily showcase the mission, highlight the Family, or even give much credit to your local work. You don't have to feel like it's a compromise if some collaborative projects don't put the Family center stage. Sometimes you might receive scant mention, but if it puts you in touch with people who you are trying to reach, if it's helping to build name recognition, if it's financing the mission, if it's part of building your work and benefits you in those or other important ways, that is acceptable.

68. It can come across as self-serving and egocentric if you expect that the Family or your local work should always be in the spotlight. Sometimes you will be in a supporting role; sometimes you will be in the lead. We have to be willing to share the credit, the spotlight, the attention. If the Family and our unique witness isn't the main attraction of a collaborative project, it doesn't mean that you're compromising.

69. As you meet key and influential people, you may be asked to play a role in an endeavor that is important to them, but which doesn't directly showcase the Family. However, even in those instances, you will likely find that as you do your part, you will gain in a number of ways—through consolidating your witness and relationship with the person you are collaborating with, through introductions or referrals to other influential people, and through people feeling more inclined to support you and your work when they see that you genuinely care about the things that matter to them.

Ten principles for successful public/private partnerships:

* Prepare properly for partnerships.
* Create a shared vision.
* Understand your partners and key players.
* Be clear on the risks and rewards for all parties.
* Establish a clear and rational decision-making process.
* Make sure all parties do their homework.
* Secure consistent and coordinated leadership.
* Communicate early and often.
* Negotiate a fair deal structure.
* Build trust as a core value.

—The Urban Land Institute

Collaboration brings benefits other than money

70. Collaboration doesn't always result in money. Due to the current economic downturn, there is a resurgence of bartering arrangements going on in the world at large. People trade their goods and services in order to hang on to their scarce cash and avoid going deeper into debt. For instance, a plumber does free plumbing work for an accountant who files the plumber's tax return. It's mutual assistance, which is, in essence, collaboration. These types of arrangements can sometimes be very beneficial.

71. There will be opportunities for collaboration that benefit your work financially or in terms of resources. However, there are also many other benefits of collaboration that can't be measured financially, but which are extremely valuable in building a long-term work.

72. You might get public support for your work from an influential company or individual. This show of public support or recognition boosts your work in the local area, because people more easily recognize you or associate you with a reliable company. Certain collaborative ventures might put you in a situation where you have the opportunity to meet people in an atmosphere where they are more receptive and open to the witness or to learning about your work. Another collaborative project might help your local work to become more known and recognized as a force for good. Yet another endeavor might strengthen your relationship with someone who helps to support and further the mission in valuable ways.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).

73. These are benefits that can't be measured in immediate or visible dividends, but that are still valuable. So in looking at your collaborative ventures and deciding which are worth your time and resources, don't be too black and white about it. Realize that some will take time to pay off, but they will pay off eventually, if you stick with them and are consistent.

74. Accepting that you might not benefit immediately is part of taking on longer-term thinking. For example, you might enter into a project of collaboration to help flood victims. A sponsor provides the material resources for the project and the Family participates as volunteers and spiritual counselors. The project might be billed primarily as being done by the commercial company, and the Family might only receive ten percent of the credit. That might not seem like a very good deal initially. But over time, if people see the Family's name on the list as a participant, or you can use that experience as a reference, that is building a presence; that is building credibility. It's laying the foundation for future opportunities. It may also position you to meet other influential people and establish relations that directly benefit your work and mission in the future.

75. Collaborating can put you in a realm with people who have the resources and energy to create change in the community. They're probably movers and shakers and know what they want done and how—and that's good. They have a goal, and so do you. The secret lies in aligning your goals so that both parties benefit and are happy.

When you're interfacing with people who have dramatically different views from yours, you immediately gravitate to the areas that you share in common, and then focus on those. That's how you build relationships, even with people who might have different views or different attitudes toward business than you.—John T. Chambers, chairman and chief executive of Cisco Systems

Each of us sees reaching a goal, solving a problem, or resolving a conflict through our own worldview. Often, we are completely unaware of how arbitrary our thinking and understanding might be. Thus in every collaboration there is a need for open, honest dialogue in which people construct a shared understanding of: (1) the problem, (2) its root causes, (3) the solution, and (4) actions to take. This shared understanding can lead to new ideas, fresh approaches, and innovative solutions.—Robert Hargrove, Mastering the Art of Creative Collaboration

76. Collaboration is generally based on trust and experience. People will want to collaborate with you once they know you and know what you can contribute, and know which of your projects they feel would be profitable for them to join with you on. This takes time. They might want to start small to test the waters and see how things play out. Don't feel bad if your first efforts don't seem to pay off right away. Not every venture will bear fruit immediately.

77. If you are both patient (trusting the Lord to open new doors) and prepared (ready to take advantage of the moving of the Lord's Spirit), He'll start to bring opportunities for collaboration your way.

78. Collaboration is part of building a work. It's building a positive presence, building name recognition of the Family, making yourself known as experts in whatever field you specialize in, so that people consider you as an option of someone to invite, consult with, call on, or refer to.

79. The "change the world" story that Dad relates is a good one to remember when thinking about collaboration (ML #565). Collaboration is sometimes a sacrifice in the short term. In some cases, a project will cost you more than you're going to get back from it, but it's part of building a relationship with someone who you're going to work with more in the future, or it helps to open other doors.

80. In farming, there is fairly immediate fruit from some types of crops. Lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, cucumbers, all grow to harvest within three to six months. An apple orchard, on the other hand, takes a minimum of seven years before you see any fruit, but then those trees will yield fruit for as long as you live. It's a long-term investment that pays off over a long period of time.

81. I read once about farmers in Canada who were starting apple orchards, and between the rows of trees they planted lettuce and other vegetables. Selling those "quick fruits" sustained them until their trees grew to maturity and started producing fruit. Their goal was to have an apple orchard, but they farmed vegetables in the meantime to get them through the transition. You might have to take a similar approach to the balance of your time and efforts in accomplishing the mission—putting some of your time toward efforts that bring immediate returns, and as much of your time as possible toward efforts that bring long-term returns.

82. Be willing to make long-term investments now in the work you are building in your community and city. You might not be able to invest all your time in long-term investments, but investing a portion of your efforts consistently in long-term projects will pay off in years to come.

Here are some excerpts from the PMA that you might find relevant or helpful:

Class: Give and Take.

Coping with the "big ideas" they have.

Asking their advice:

An example, not a sermon

83. When working in a collaborative venture, you may not have the opportunity to advertise the Family at every turn. But as you carry out your projects professionally and with integrity, it will accrue to the Family's credit. If you are clearly associated with the Family, then through your good works, people will recognize what the Family has to give. You will gain credibility, and people will be more willing to receive the witness from you, because they trust you.

84. If you are consistent, over time people will recognize that you are different, that you have something desirable that they respect and admire, and they will come to want it too. Your works and faithfulness and consistency and integrity will speak louder than any sales speech you could ever give, and will do more to promote the Family than any promotional video or materials ever could (although the promotional materials are helpful and needed as well).

85. There are a lot of people who won't receive a traditional witness, but who will be open to collaboration. With time, they will likely be won over and grow more receptive to the message, because you have been the "Bible bound in shoe leather," as Dad often called it.

86. If you keep coming back to the touchstone of the mission and sincerely look for the best ways to fulfill the mission—both on an individual scale, heart by heart, as the Lord leads you to His sheep, and also on a broader scale, reaching as many people as effectively as possible—you can be confident that the Lord will lead and guide you. He will direct you clearly. He will open doors of opportunity, and will give you the faith to walk through the ones that He knows will bear the most fruit. Keep focusing on the mission. It's all for Jesus, all for love, all for the mission!

Prayer focus

* For wisdom in knowing which doors of collaboration to walk through, keeping a good balance between guarding our time for the most important things and making time to be His love for those in need.

* For faith to build for the long term and invest in projects that the Lord confirms are a good use of time, but which might not yield immediate dividends; for miracles of supply in the meantime.

* For an infilling of love, and increased professionalism, integrity, and kindness, which will help us go far in being fruitful and effective in our collaborative ventures.

* For fresh new mindsets in the area of collaboration—for openness and willingness to try the new, to give and take, to learn whatever we need to learn in order to be good representatives of Jesus and the work He has asked us to do for Him.

Copyright © 2009 by The Family International