At the beginning of each term when I introduce the concept of collaboration and the difference between a collaboration and a collection of people, I like to tell my students the story of my Army Reserve Basic Training platoon run. As a Public Affairs Officer, I had to complete the Army Basic Training with the Infantry. Most of the candidates were in their early 20s, and I was in my early 40s. Not only was I the oldest, but I was also the smallest at five feet. The goal of the platoon run is for everyone to finish, and your platoon time is based on the slowest member of your platoon. There were six platoons competing. My platoon knew that I would be the slowest runner of all the platoons, so my platoon made a plan. We all ran as fast as we could for as long as we could, and when I could no longer keep up, the two biggest guys ran beside me, lifted me up by my elbows, and the rest of the platoon gathered around us, so it looked like we were all running together. No one outside of the platoon could see that while my legs were running, my feet never touched the ground. Although other individuals crossed the finish line before us, our platoon won the competition run because we all crossed the line together as a group. No one else but us knew how I finished the run with the best of our platoon. That's collaboration in practice.
Trigger - Starts basic training
Problem - She's shorter and older than the rest, so worries about the group being penalized on their platoon run.
Quest - Decide as a group that the biggest members will carry her and they will all go as a group.
Resolution - The platoon wins the competition.
Purpose: True collaboration produces results.