• Fiona Deehan

Together, we do better

Māori whakataukī/proverb: shared at the first hui/gathering of the year of our Leaders in the Community (LinC) programme earlier this week

I want to tell you about some of the ways I choose to work and why. My intentional choice to work in these ways benefits everyone - me, my partners and my clients. I want to share with you some of the reasons why I choose to be self-employed and actively seek opportunities to collaborate and strategically partner with people and organisations from a diverse range of industries and backgrounds, and I'll even share a couple of examples. Why does this matter for you? Well, read on to see. I promise it does!

1. Better solutions and better outcomes

'Two heads are better than one' is not just something people say, it's truth. Genuine, meaningful collaboration with a partner or a client means that we take the time to really understand the problem we are trying to solve and then we get multiple perspectives as we work through the solutions. Being comfortable with partnering with others, even those who work in the same field as me, enables me to draw on a range of expertise and ensures that my clients get the best solutions and outcomes possible. No doubt I could do a great job for them on my own, but where appropriate, a partner or collaborator can make a great job even better! One example of this is my work with the Org Dev Institute and the REACH Ecosystem tools that I use along with my skills to plan and deliver measurable and impactful learning and development strategies.

2. Opportunities to learn

Every time we collaborate with others, whether they're clients or partners, there is an opportunity to learn something new. Even as highly knowledgeable people in our fields, an openness to new perspectives, a willingness to learn and a commitment continuous improvement is great for business and our wellbeing. Do you have a growth or fixed mindset? How could a shift benefit you and your business? I love to learn myself and I love helping others learn. A recent experience leading change for a health, safety and wellbeing project provided me with so much opportunity to learn about myself personally and professionally. Learning isn't always comfortable, but it's always worth it!

3. Impact

If clients get better solutions and better outcomes because of collaboration and strategic partnerships, the impact of our work increases exponentially. What do I mean by impact? Ākina describes impact as 'the positive social, cultural or environmental changes, or outcomes, that happen as a consequence of an action'. I spent some time developing an impact model (different to a business model) with a coach, Jill at Enable Change, and it helped me to clarify the change I wanted to see in the world, the issues I care about and how my work could contribute to making an impact on these specific things. Our mission is to improve health and wellbeing through coaching, capability, change and connection. My impact model is a constant work-in-progress and I am working through how I can measure my impact. So how does collaboration and strategic partnership scale my impact? One example is a strategic partnership with Ignite Aotearoa (a social enterprise that’s changing the way New Zealanders access mental health and wellbeing support, starting in our workplaces). Working with an internationally recognised, credible organisation, whose values align with my own and collaborating with a diverse team to develop fresh and forward-thinking approaches to wellbeing education means that my impact is so much greater than anything I could create on my own. Collaboration + strategic partnership = Cara Consulting impact x 10 (at least!)

4. New markets and new perspectives

The longer you've been working in your own business, no matter how hard you try, the more blinkered you become, and you may potentially miss opportunities to grow into other markets. A new perspective into your business and your work from someone who has different interests or works in a completely different industry can often open up doors that were previously hidden. For example, I recently participated in Progress People's Legacy Leadership workshop (which was an excellent experience!) as I will be partnering with them. I wanted to learn and understand what they are delivering in their existing workshops. As we went through the workshops, ideas were popping into my head about how some of the frameworks could be used in different contexts that might not have been already considered, like health and safety and sport. My knowledge of these areas meant I brought a different perspective and may open my partners up to new markets. (I've yet to debrief following the workshop and these ideas may have already been considered, but an example to help demonstrate my point all the same).

5. Fun

Regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert, everyone needs to have social connection - it's a fundamental part of having high levels of wellbeing. The amount of time you work with others might vary, but making intentional decisions about who you work with and realising the potential of these relationships is enjoyable and feeds the soul. One recent example of this was a collaboration to deliver holistic health workshops to post natal women and then pre- and menopausal women. It was led by Lorraine at Energise Health and Fitness and she brought together a multidisciplinary team to work with these women. There was plenty of laughter and lots of learning - a win-win all round!

6. Connections

Working with others is a great way to get to know people. I love people and am intrigued by how unique each individual is in how they think and act. I am a curious soul who is interested in understanding people and their businesses and I absolutely love to connect people with what they need. I'm often known to ask people 'what do you need right now?' or 'if there was any problem you could solve, what would it be and how might you solve it?' If they tell me, I file it away in my brain and my 'concierge-library' skills join the dots to connect people, resources and ideas - sometimes instantly, sometimes six months later, sometimes never, but that's rarely the case. Making genuine connections, being curious and not being afraid to share knowledge and networks has benefited me, my partners and clients significantly. They do say 'it's not what you know, but who you know'....'what you know' is very important, but 'who you know' adds huge value.

I could go on and on, but these are the main reasons I have chosen to work in this way. If you would like to discuss collaboration or a strategic partnership, get in touch for a chat. A chat about collaboration is not a commitment to collaboration. I like to think I've coined the term 'collabor-dating' - we don't have to commit to a relationship and say 'I love you', let's explore what could be and 'date' before making any hasty decisions!

Other collaborative projects I am involved with at the moment include:

Organising Christchurch's first Impact Unconference

A range of conversation-starter workshops with Enable Change including one to mark International Women's Day 2020

Leaders in the Community Cultivator (LinC) programme

Volunteer Helpline Counsellor for Lifeline Aotearoa

Call Fiona on 022 676 8858 or email fionadeehan@caraconsulting.co.nz


022 676 8858

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