I recently sat with a team that was using innovative thinking to uncover their next big initiative—and the projects that would surround that initiative. There were small toys to play with on the table, and a lot of brainpower focused on imagining and developing what was next. This included laughter, hard thinking, tough questions, disagreement, dialogue, epiphanies and a palpable energy that filled the room.

I loved being a part of this moment. I knew that this team had a far better chance of making it to true collaborative execution (which they did), because the collaboration began before the work did. Or, another way to say it: The collaboration began with discovery rather than with doling out work assignments. As I left, I felt a charge of energy course through my own body. This is how we are supposed to work together. This is what we long for on a consistent basis.

Collaboration begins when a team or an organization works together to discover a mission or initiative worthy of their attention and the organization itself. The mission may be a long-term objective, taking quite some time to accomplish. It may be a three-month initiative that moves a strategic business unit forward. Or, it could be a three-day retreat that helps to realign a guiding team’s thinking about what matters most. Whatever the mission, collaboration begins when the team charged with collaboration discovers that mission together.

The point: Discovering what to do (a part of the mission) together makes it more likely that the group will actually follow through and do it. Or, finding "it" together makes accomplishing "it" more likely.

Start your collaboration with a collective discovery process and you’ll see the group’s energy soar.