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  • Salem Dogbe, Alumnus, University of Alaska

Is Collaboration Necessary in Business and Life?

I had the honor to attend a Worldcom PR Group conference in Vienna, Austria, with several members of the National Millennial and Gen Z Community--a group established by students from seven universities and IW Group. During the conference, one session stood out to me and triggered questions about why we even have to collaborate.

Why do people work together when at the end of the day there are several sources or resources for them to use that do not require others to find or assist? This is a simple question with millions of potential answers. We all know the feeling of being involved in a class project with others we don’t necessarily want around or embrace. We may not have the same opinions or even the same tastes, but hopefully we can identify something that we can work on together. Sometimes it might be easier to find a business partner with the same vision but later discover that it really isn't easy to collaborate with that individual. This is not an attempt to describe the result of collaboration; instead, I hope this will be an illustration on the impact of true collaboration. In my opinion, choosing to collaborate with peers can result in significant success.

What really Is the value of collaboration? First, we must explore the difference between networking and collaboration. Wikipedia defines "collaboration" as the process for which two or more people or organizations work together to complete a task or achieve a goal. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "collaboration" as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions.

Whether we live in large cities working in big firms or live in small towns, the world does not revolve around us as individuals. Sooner or later we realize that we need to break out of our shells of ignorance, set our egos aside, and approach others to find solutions. It is my understanding that the true value of collaboration is subjective. We can choose or not choose to collaborate, but in the end it still a choice--our choice. Nonetheless, there is a significant value when we collaborate. If we refer to the definition that includes networking, the exchange of information, etc., as stated above, we can conclude that it will help two or more organizations in achieving success. All of this ultimately provides us, our colleagues, our future clients, and our customers the satisfaction they want and expect when we do find ways to collaborate.

It is daunting to find common ground all the time or to stick to the same objectives when we do business with others. Let’s take an example at work where people have different titles and jobs. When collaboration is lacking, even perfect communication cannot help the overall goal of a team that is destined to fail. All of us need to recognize that knowledge is a flowing river. To grasp the essence of a subject, we must collaborate, fusing our egos with reality and transforming it into success.

Secondly, the ability to reach out for collaboration is an act of courage, hardiness of spirit, and selflessness. I've been fortunate to travel with members of the National Millennial and Gen Z Community a couple of times. Each time, the experience I have gained through networking will last with me for a lifetime. The people we meet today may not always be a part of our immediate conversations, but they may be included in future discussions and collaborations.

Lastly, collaboration enhances the culture of awareness and understanding on an array of complex subjects. Clearly, the more we learn and know, the more we will grow and succeed in the future.

No one has a monopoly on knowledge. Thus the "cogito ergo sum” prevails in the business world when healthy skepticism requires us to work with others to produce the very best results. By questioning how to get it done better and how to reach a wider audience, we can turn our skepticism into strong collaborations.

When artists perform well, we all applaud them. We admire and idolize them because we think that they are reaching a larger audience. Our selfishness can ruin the quality of our collaborations.

In closing, I strongly believe that the primary purpose of being an entrepreneur or business leader is to solve problems. As problems are resolved, everyone benefits. There is no business without profit; furthermore, a non-profit organization couldn't survive without purpose or a noble cause to pursue. In the end, people run businesses and organizations, not the other way around. When an organization grows and is profitable, everyone is happy. Happiness is what we all pursue, and it can only happen if we build effective ways to collaborate.

Aristotle, the great philosopher said, “Happiness then, is found to be something perfect and self-sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.” I encourage everyone to welcome a more collaborative world.


Merriam-Webster n.d. Web. 22 May . 2019.

Wikipedia n.d. Web. 22 May . 2019.

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