Collaboration Skills: One of the Most Important 21st Century Job Skills

Collaboration Concept

This morning I (Davis) am speaking to Rich Campbell’s marketing students at Sonoma State (maybe you’re one of them?!) and I wanted to center this annual presentation to my fellow SSU alums around collaboration this year. At the end of this post, I’ll share an exercise with you that you can use to build your collaboration muscles.

First, let’s define “collaboration” for our purposes as working with someone to produce or create something outside of a traditional corporate structure.

Increasingly, I’m finding that the rise of decentralized work networks, contract work scenarios from larger corporations, the freelance economy, the sharing economy, and virtual workforces is creating an increased need for collaboration skills.

This isn’t just what I am personally feeling but Eazl is also hearing this from our corporate learning clients like PayPal, Yelp!, Volkswagon, and other enterprises. In a higher education landscape that increasingly prioritizes computer science education, employers are finding that soft skills are often lacking in their workforces.

Here, you’ll find links where you can explore some of the collaboration topics that I discussed with the Sonoma State students today and dive deeper into elements of collaboration or most appropriate for your use case:

Here’s a simple exercise to build your skills in this area:

  1.  Next time that somebody close to you starts to tell you about something that is important to them, use the “three whys“ technique to learn deeply about their attitude towards the situation. Simply ask “why do you feel that way?” and then follow up with another question like “why do you think that?“ and then finally, a final “why do you think that?“
  2. Call the information that you have learned about this person, their situation, and the assumptions that drive their thinking back to yourself. Simply take information if they’ve shared with you and then replay that in your mind. This will reinforce those ideas and enable you to retain the information that was shared with you.

This exercise is simply about learning to actively search for, listen to, and retain information about another person‘s interests and attitudes. After all, collaboration is all about working towards shared interests or goals outside of traditional work formats because you will often be unable to force people to do something. That means that you need to know more about what actually motivates them, align your actions with their motivations, and collaboratively work towards the goal.

Build your collaboration skills with these Eazl courses:

If you’re interested, you can also see a recording of my talk on campus last year on the History of the Entrepreneurial Spirit.

Davis Jones

Davis Jones

Head of Product at Eazl
Davis Jones is a communicator, academic, and content maker with 9 years of experience in content marketing, recruitment, product management and everything else that it takes to launch businesses. Located in Chicago and San Francisco.
Davis Jones