Collaboration Articulation

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Two heads may be


better than one,


but not always


two tongues…

When you are planning or starting out to work with another entity, intent on accomplishing a mutual goal, there are some simple steps you might want to take that can dramatically increase your odds for success.

Regardless of whether the root of your pursuit is to save money with centralized purchasing arrangements, add impact to a community fundraiser, introduce a new strategic alliance or affiliate partner, send out a joint-mission news release, join forces launching a new product or service, or just share clerical or cleaning help, the burden of success rests squarely on your tongue.

Huh? Tongue? What’s that about?

When we buy into a plan or idea or action with another person or business or organization, one that brings mutual benefit to the surface, the responsibility for making things work depends on the mutual ability to communicate clearly.

This translates to using word choices you both understand (vs. jargon that only you and your people can readily digest) and consciously limiting descriptions, requests, suggestions, and commitments to the right amount of words — avoiding with equal disdain too much or too little input. Of course, the flapping of the tongue also necessitates the listening of the ear!

U.S. Naval Academy class underlings are subjected to many disciplines. One of these is the response that’s traditionally been required to be delivered (with a salute) to any upperclassman who asks the question:

“Sir, I am greatly embarrassed and deeply humiliated that due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of my chronometer are in such inaccord with the great sidereal movement with which time is generally reckoned that I cannot with any degree of accuracy state the correct time, sir.  But without fear of being too greatly in error, I will state that it is about __ minutes, __ seconds, and __ ticks past __ bells.”

That’s a great tool for cultivating discipline. And those who can rattle out that response (plus many others!) on the spot should be valued and appreciated for their commitment. The thing is that the military (and God Bless Our Troops!) is not business.

In business, and especially in collaborative business where the other entity may not be a deeply-known entity, the response must be “3pm” (or “3:15” or some other approximation) because anything more or less creates confusion, and confusion costs money. Effective collaborators articulate just the right amount of information to get the job done.

When you agree to work with an “outside” business, take the responsibility for getting it right. Take the extra time and trouble to make sure that you’re not only on the same mission, but that you’re also on the same channel, speaking the same language.

“Let me make sure I understand you” or “Do I understand you correctly to mean…” or “Can you give me an example of what you mean by that?” are all ways to help ensure that you and your “partners” will get to where you’re going. Don’t worry about what others think of your efforts to clarify. Worry about failing to achieve the mutual goals if you don’t.


Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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