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The Right Formula for Successful Collaboration

Leonie Cutts

My partner, Craig and I have lived and worked together for over 25 years. If you were to test us on any personality, learning styles or team profile, you would see that we usually come out in diagonally opposite quadrants. This can cause a lot of tension, heated debate but ultimately, hopefully, a great outcome.

In my first Unpacked Session with Allan Ryan from Hargraves Institute, we unpacked collaboration. We discussed the key elements for a successful collaboration and in our conversation he shared a formula, which I think sums the elements up quite beautifully:

You have probably heard the formula for working together as: 1 + 1 = 3, which highlights the fact that we are better together.

Allans ‘flower’ formula takes this one more step and highlights the key factor in a successful collaboration: diversity. Diversity of thought, experience, perspective.  Through diversity you get richness in thinking and intellectual challenge, which can produce a much better outcome than if you work with someone who thinks exactly the same as you do.

Beyond diversity of thinking, Allan also took us through his organisation’s Collaboration Assessment Tool to highlight the importance of Competence and Connectedness in ensuring a team can collaborate well and thrive.

Working with Craig I know I appreciate the diversity of thought. But it’s not always easy or joyful. Sometimes it’s very, very hard and can be incredibly annoying (if I’m really honest). ‘Why can’t he just do it my way?’ often runs through my head.

But when I’m at my best and am able to be open to our differences, we get a much better result.

You don’t need 25 years with someone to be able to collaborate well, but you do need an environment where people feel safe to share their different and even conflicting ideas and thoughts. In our next Unpacked session, we will be talking about creating this environment through psychological safety with Sian Mertens: ‘Can we talk about it?’ How to have tough conversations.

I’d love you to join us!


To prime your team for collaboration, check out the workshop in a box we developed in collaboration with Hargraves Institute: Collaborizza – team collaboration, self delivered.

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Leonie Cutts

Co-founder of CCS Corporation, co-developer of the CCS, facilitator and coach. Leonie is passionate about bringing people together for connection and growth in both their personal and professional lives.