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Trust in collaboration

Trust and collaboration go hand in hand. It is not about dampening individuality, it is about knowing everyone's talents and using them entirely. Effective collaboration requires trust, and trust empowers practical cooperation.

Photograph: iStock

Text: Laura Wintemute

Most collaborations fail because of competitive self-interest, lack of trust and absence of shared purpose among partnering organisations. To fully collaborate means that all parties should be willing to look beyond and see what more could be achieved together, to realise that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.


Trust is an essential element when collaborating with others. Without it, you're unlikely to get anything meaningful done. But with it, you can accomplish everything you set out to do... and more.


Clear communication around goals and objectives is another crucial factor for successful collaboration.

Trust often seems invisible or taken for granted until it is violated or betrayed. Which is why trust in your collaborators should never to be taken for granted.

Don't just collaborate…co-create!

As startup entrepreneurs, we often seek partners that complement our capabilities and help us gain new markets. Collaborating in business requires a commitment amongst parties to co-create opportunities that would lead to mutual and fair benefits for all.

Just another link to and from your website is not, in my mind, considered collaboration. Sure you get more website traffic with the more clicks, but this doesn't mean anything if you don't take your associations to the next level. Find a way to grow together with your collaborators.

Collaborating with others is just the first step of the business relationship - but creation is essential in product development and planning. It brings depth to the project that simply isn't possible when merely collaborating.

"Bringing bright minds and wholehearted people together creates amazing results. Trusting your collaborators is truly the key to help your business forward and create the impact you wish for yourself and your stakeholders." - Jannie Åsted Skov Hansen, Founder of Here We Are Global

Everyone sees success differently. You may see it as an increase in sales, while the priority of your business collaboration is to access new markets, and another business wants to increase its product/service range. When there are different views on what success should look like for your collaboration, it leads to each business pulling in different directions, making it harder to achieve your collaboration goals.

The most obvious reason to invest in a co-creation business relationship is to create something new. Sometimes we have to acknowledge that we don't have all the answers and need to ask others for help. Just like any relationship, you want to know that the businesses you collaborate with shares your values. If your values are not aligned, the relationship will simply not work.


Business reciprocity, as a strategy, has enormous advantages. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. When you give first, without expecting anything in return, it goes a long way in helping to build the like and trust factor.

The principle of reciprocity describes a human need for a 'give and take' but in a business relationship, there is undoubtedly an expectation of return; therefore, the principle of reciprocity should be built on trust.

Once you have established some goodwill with reciprocity, it's essential to "cash in" at some point. Sure you go into this expecting nothing in return, but at some point, you will need to do things to help grow your business, so don't be afraid to ask for help. Again, do it expecting nothing in return or the true heart of reciprocity is lost.

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