While many may conceptually or intellectually agree with the practice and spirit of collaboration, few in my experience truly know what this means in practical terms to their work or participate in it wholeheartedly. How can we know how to, when apart from some group projects and team work at school or university (often completed by the most diligent person in the group) there is little or no formal opportunity to learn; and when we get to our various roles be it in the public or private sector, there are few examples or role models who exemplify the power of inter-departmental, inter-agency or inter-organizational collaboration; often narrow vision, a lack of ability to systems-think or unchecked egos get in the way.
Today is one of my proudest days as a Canadian (a label I rarely use due to my general lack of enthusiasm for labelling people) even with the somewhat modified plan to bring and welcome 10,000 Syrian Refugees into Canada (across 36 cities from east-west) by the end of 2015. The delivery of the news with the Federal Ministers of Immigration, Health, Defence, Public Safety and Heritage, all sitting side-by-side and sharing the plan that they will deliver on ‘collaboratively’ was inspiring at multiple levels. It demonstrates collaboration across their various ministries, collaboration with the various Provincial & Territorial Government counterparts and many other non-governmental, private and civilian groups. The success of this truly admirable gesture by Canadians will only be realized if we at all levels, including citizens, step in, involve and work with other groups in a truly complementary and collaborative manner. Perhaps this nation wide (arguably also nation building) Canadian effort can also serve as an example of how to work collaboratively, to become inspiring leaders (in our own work at our offices also!) and to do so while demonstrating high-level human qualities of humanitarianism and compassion!