Common pitfalls

We can learn a lot from past collaborations including the fact that working effectively together takes practice. Here are some common pitfalls you can avoid.

Anticipate common pitfalls

Adapt your tone - Academics are used to a direct, brusque way of critiquing each other and are called upon for their expertise. Transdisciplinary research thrives with a different tone - one of curiosity, inquiry and open engagement.

Expect friction - This is a process of invention which naturally comes with some stress, friction, frustration and most of all requires creativity and teamwork. Encourage generative conflict and dialogue.

Ensure inclusive power dynamics - Every collaboration includes power and politics. The best collaborations reveal these dynamics and finds ways to ensure inclusion and meaningful engagement of those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized and move toward 'power with' rather than 'power over.'

Adjusting for context - The approach your research team has taken in one context needs to be adapted and adjusted to a new context, including with those who are deeply familiar with the local needs and challenges.

Missing chances to celebrate and engage - Often research projects wait until the end of a project to communicate early results in compelling ways and celebrate milestones. By reflecting the progress of the collaboration including through mapping the journey and highlighting insights along the way, participants are inspired and build greater trust.