Character actor John C. Reilly shared his take on collaborating in an interview in The New York Times Magazine:

One of those truly magical things that human beings can do together is to create a third thing that wasn’t there before the two decided to cooperate. I became an actor because I love collaborating with people. The pressure is just too great when you have to come up with every idea yourself.”

We have the opportunity to create a “third thing” whenever we have a problem to solve. In fact, studies show that collaboration generates better ideas. But how do we spark collaboration?

The Need-Your-Perspective Formula:

  1. Pick a Problem
  2. Identify a Person
  3. Request their Perspective

Asking for someone’s perspective is powerful:

  • It communicates respect for their experience, expertise, and wisdom.
  • It rouses their awareness, interest, and even empathy.
  • It’s a low-commitment “yes!”.

But people don’t help everyone who asks, so what else triggers their call to collaborate with us?

  • Connection: they share a personal relationship or commonality with us
    (ex: a referral, working for the same company, belonging to the same association, participating in the same mentoring program)
  • Belief in their Wisdom: they believe they have skills, expertise, and experience to contribute
  • Personal Responsibility: they feel they can make a difference for us

When I asked Krista for her perspective on leadership for my next book, she instantly agreed. Why? We were connected through a mutual friend; she knew her experience offered a fresh outlook; and she knew she could make a difference by sharing it.

So don’t just ask people to get together for coffee. They will likely say they’re too busy.

Instead, ask people for their perspective on an issue, problem, or project you’re wrestling with.

Give them an opportunity to create a “third thing” with you (a solution!) that was not there before. 

It might be truly magical!

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