imagesI attended a collaborative practice group meeting today whose members are charged with ensuring the highest quality of service in our locale. An idea had been uploading in my mind for sometime and I was eager to see implemented. Someone on our team didn’t believe the idea had merit. Another person thought it had great merit with some modifications. It turns out the tweaking substantially improved the original concept. I really like what we together developed–much more than my original idea!


This collaborative stuff actually works! Even in our professional groups. But what makes for an effective collaboration? Whether you are collaborating with a soon-to-be former or future spouse, your co-workers or your fellow board members, here’s my suggestions:

  1. Develop your idea and be clear about the needs it would meet. It can’t be enough that it just sounds good! Why is it important? If implemented, what would it accomplish?
  2. Be open to the possibility that other ideas, even good ones, exist. Put it out there. Articulate the why and the what of it. And then listen. Others may ponder aloud other possibilities, or may want to tweak or modify your concept. Let that flow.
  3. Don’t feel compelled to defend your idea. That diminishes your ability to hear. Bring an open mind and be willing to explore permutations of your original thought, or even totally different ideas. By noodling around with possibilities together,  you may just like what you collaboratively develop better. If not, the other(s) will be asked to bring that same open mind to your concepts too.
  4. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. My objective was to ensure good mentoring for professionals newly trained in the collaborative way. It was not – and shouldn’t have been – to garner support for my grand idea and build my ego. Yours may be to develop a prenupt that you both feel is fair or to ensure comfortable co-parenting ability post-divorce or to know that your siblings will work together on your aging parents’ behalf. Those things usually matter more than our one brilliant concept. If another achieves the bigger goal, that should be what matters most.

These principals work well in a mediation session, a collaborative session, or any committee or team meeting. Sometimes it even take a professional collaborator by surprise!

Have you had a situation develop where your idea, initially thought so brilliant, was substantially improved upon by the work of the group? Did that come as a surprise to you? Tell us about it below.

Wishing you wisdom,

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Deborah Bennett Berecz



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Berecz and Associates PLC | Attorneys, Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers | Grand Rapids, MI | Saint Joseph, MI

Disclaimer: The purpose of this site is to give you information about our practice and about areas of the law that may interest you. Everyone's situation is different, and nothing here should be treated as legal advice for your case. For your own legal advice, contact us.

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