The basis of successful collaborations

November 2nd, 2010

“They hit it off, and decided to collaborate, eventually producing PayPal.”

This was a comment on a program called The Virtual Revolution about the beginnings of PayPal. While the story of PayPal as a new global monetary system is interesting, it’s the first four words of the quote that really interests me.

That’s because I believe the best collaborations (successful and satisfying) are based on a foundation of friendship.

2 Comments so far

  1. Eva Schiffer on November 3, 2010 12:19 am

    Hi Viv,
    What confuses me is that the best and the worst collaborations in my experience are based on friendship. This is why many people say don’t mix friendship and money. If it goes well, working with friends is wonderful, if it fails, it is extra painful because you might loose a friend or drag something on for very long to avoid loosing a friend. I think the danger is that you might decide to work with someone just because you like them irrespective of their qualification or contribution. Somehow it first has to be clear that both have something to give (professionally). From my very small sample I would say when I meet someone professionally and think: “This person could become a friend” that’s the perfect start. If I am friends with someone for a long time and think: “Why not work together” that has been a less promising model.

  2. Viv McWaters on November 4, 2010 10:59 am

    Thanks Eva – you make some good points. I agree, it is hard to mix friendship and money, something I struggle with a lot with the collaborations I have. I once convened a conference and we had a small group of people (friends) who agreed to help out. Each brought specific skills. We purposely kept it small and had the principle of wanting to be better friends at the end of it. This we kept at the forefront of our minds all the time, especially when the inevitable disagreements came up, and because we had
    agreed that our friendship was more important than anything else we were able to let go of status plays and other shenanigans. Not easy but ultimately rewarding. And I guess what’s really behind my comment is something more than friendship even. I have lots of people whom I would call friends who I would never dream of working with. There has to be some chemistry there. I think it’s probably something mysterious and not even possible to make explicit – but I certainly know when it’s there, and when it’s not 🙂 Cheers, Viv

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