Collaboration vs Coordination

Value proceeds progress

collaboration vs. coordination

Have you ever found yourself in a team environment that goes no where? Nothing gets done. A committee perhaps. When I find myself in these situations I make it a point to talk about a truth that I have discovered. A saying I have adopted. A practice of habit and method of working with others I use. I have found that it clears these situations up quite nicely. People get it. People respond to it. In my experience it has breathed hope and life back into these gatherings which showed so much promise at setting out but somewhere along the way took a wrong turn. It is sometimes a hard pill to swallow for those that are not all that interested in doing any real work. Everyone who wants progress rallies around it and progress is what is had if it is adopted. Here it is. Value proceeds progress.

I was recently approached by The National Society of Leadership and Success to do an interview for content to push out to their members. During the interview I was asked what lessons I had learned about collaboration. I shared with them something I learned while in the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program at Illinois State University. While there I had the privilege of studying under Dr. Steven Taylor. Dr. Taylor is brilliant, an academic’s academic. I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him. Dr. Taylor was also an incredible teacher. That is, I learned new and highly valuable skills and adopted them as habits under his instruction. Dr. Taylor taught me many valuable things and one of the most valuable was the difference between collaboration and coordination.

  • Collaboration. In my estimation, the goal is getting all the information on the table.
  • Coordination. In my estimation, the goal is getting the work done. You do this. I’ll do that. Let’s go.

In my estimation getting to ‘let’s go’ is often the issue that committees struggle with. So I want to talk just a bit about getting to ‘let’s go’, which is where I have come to believe all the progress happens.

Value proceeds progress. Value propositions. The language of business. A deal. A proposed exchange. These are what are needed for progress. If there are no value propositions there will be no progress. Ideas will never reach their potential until a value proposition for executing them is made. Let me present a, hopefully, simple and adaptable example in an effort to make things clear and useful.

An idea that a certain set of stakeholders would benefit from a certain thing. Let us say a community wants a park. Ok so people are gathered to talk about the park. Quickly, often too quickly in my experience, the conversation turns to preference. Should it go here or there or have this or that. Preference is a wonderful thing in the free market do no misunderstand me. What I am saying is that a group of people talking about their preferences in a room will go on and on and there will be no progress on the park. Someone in the group must do the work to frame up a plan and present it. Make a value proposition to the group. This is how to speak business. Bill stands up and says “I should like to propose the following plan: I will research and identify grants, Susie will then write the executive summary for our grant application, which Sam will then use to get letters of intent to match dollars at a 1:4 ratio from these or those organizations and Mary will put the application together and come back to the lot of us to answer the grantor’s questions until it is through.” Then Bill says the magic words, “who is in?”. And what results is progress. If the group is in. They act in coordination. If the group is not in, they will have identified one way not to create a light bulb as it were. At this step, no matter if Bill’s proposition is the best, hopefully the group will realize the sacred nature of the proposition that Bill has made. The sacred language of business. Proposal. Acceptance, denial or counter offer. Now the group has a place from which to start. A spark in coming to a proposition that a team can commit to, hold eachother accountable to, and focus on the results thereof.

This has gone on too long. Here is a sound byte from the interview that was shared with the members of The National Society of Leadership and Success. I have permission to share a short snippet of it, for the full interview one need be a member.


 -A takeaway from an press interview

 As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Do Not Pursue Perfection

I want you to grab hold of this principle because it will change your life — if you will simply make the most of where you are, God will do the rest.

-Tony Evans

romantic landscape

In his fourth commandment to making money Rabbi Lapin suggests that we should not pursue perfection, especially at the expense of the practical.  Do not let a fixation with a perfect future distract you from the next best thing, which is in fact, the best thing – since of course, perfection does not exist.

I remember the first time I had an idea for a company that I knew would change the world.  Looking back it was so, perfect.  Perfect in its conception and birth.  Perfect in its infancy and perfect all the way through to its maturity as I laughed my way to the bank.  Like many first time entrepreneurs, when I first had the idea my thoughts on next steps immediately turned to raising money.  A magical meeting.  The perfect pitch.  Rainbows and unicorns and little bunnies that go for afternoon tea with foxes.

In the real world bunnies that hang around foxes get eaten.  In the real world ideas that wait on a magical meetings die.  I was so naive.  When I was out looking for my magical meeting,  focusing on money I did not have, I was neglecting everything I did have.

I got my magical meeting.  The pitch was perfect.  And the result: I got my first “not right now, but lets stay in touch, ok?”  Most investors do not say ‘no’.  They say ‘not right now.’  Which I believe is their way of saying ‘no, but maybe if you actually do something good I might say yes.’  Key phrase here being ‘do something.’

Once I decided to do what I could with what I had, it worked. I had all I needed to get to the first step.  And when I got there, the things I needed to get to the next step were provided.

Sometimes I think we are too smart for our own good.  From the starting block we can see three or four steps out.  We can also see that we do not have what it will take to get past step three.  A smart person then says ‘why bother starting until I have what I need to get past step three?’  A wise person knows once you complete step one you often learn what you thought about the next steps will likely change.  What you thought you needed, how you might come to have what you need, or even what the next step is…

If you have an idea for a quicker, better, faster but the resources for the ultimate are not available right now: do not wait for them.  Hack it together.  There is always a way.  If it works at all, if it is at all useful – you will be surprised at how quickly what you need to take the idea to the next level will come.  He is faithful.

-A takeaway from Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin


As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject would be the coolest.




“A good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”
-George S. Patton

Dramatic scene on the sky. Vintage fighter plane inbound from su


I love staying in touch with students who go through the entrepreneurship program.  When it comes to work, I do not think there is anything more fulfilling than being around entrepreneurs and their growing companies – especially young ones.  I find the way they view the future inspiring.

The other day I met with one of the most promising recent ISU entrepreneurship program grads.  The topic of the meeting was “what is next?”

We talked about planning.  And how bad it can be for a startup.  He identified an area where he had succumb to planning paralyzation.  He had a plan in the works re: going national which combined implementing mass production and replacing an existing product line.  The problem was it had been in the works for almost a year now.  Mass production and new product lines are a big deal, but he realized he needed to stop planning and start doing – even if it meant his plans might not go perfectly.  Fear can keep us in planning mode.  What if this?  What if that?

Planning and acting.  When balancing the two, a good way is to do just enough planning to act well.  Just enough to decide what you need to learn, what action it will take to learn it – and no more.

By the end of our talk he had come up with an action plan.  Within twenty-four hours he had sent me a note describing the results of some of the actions he was taking.  They were good results. Results he would have never realized if he was still planning.


A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.


Rhetoricals: Is there anything that you have been planning for awhile now? Is it time to take some action? What assumptions are you making in your plans? Which assumption is the most critical to your plan succeeding? What is the smallest action you can take to learn whether or not that assumption is correct?

Actives: What do you think a good balance between taking action and planning is? Any helpful books, takeaways, stories, lessons learned on the subject?