Building collaboration is difficult. It involves helping others before they help you. To do that, you have to trust that the others are likely to help you. That trust grows when they help you. Once this positive feedback loop established is hard. Someone has to take the risk of beginning it. Taking that risk is a leap of faith: of faith in the possibility of collaboration.
Here is a story that helps to maintain my faith in the possibility of collaboration.
A lifetime ago, my partner and I had a young child. We both worked or studied full time. We needed help with the care of our child, but we were poor. Through our networks we met a young woman who seemed trustworthy and was willing to look after our child for very reasonable pay. Her name was Leanne.
We told Leanne that her job was done if we came home and our child was safe and content. We apologised that we could not pay more and made it clear that Leanne was not expected to do any housework.
When we came home, the fire was lit, gentle music was playing and Leanne and our child were doing an activity together on the floor. We were delighted. As the days progressed, we began to come home to a load of washing on the line, or a clear bench that we had left in a rushed clutter that morning. Touched at Leanne’s thoughtfulness and generosity, we found some more money to pay her.