top of page

Is your organization an island or an atoll?

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

An island or an atoll? Which approach are you using in your business?

Collaboration. It’s a term that many throw around as a means to achieving better results in business. Yet so few of us actually implement it in business. But in my home community of Maple Ridge, collaboration is what makes our community (and our community events) thrive!

Collaborative examples in Maple Ridge include the Haney Farmers Market, the annual Earth Day Celebration, the HIVE Neighbourhood Centre in Eric Langton Elementary, Family Literacy Day…. the list could go on. In each of these cases, local community groups team up to promote and advance their messages in creative, engaging, and fun ways.

All of these events have been jointly created and planned, with every partner contributing to the whole by investing time, energy, money, resources, and promotions, as they can.

By working together, they have:

  • involved a wider, more diverse volunteer pool;

  • reached more people within the community with their message;

  • shared resources, expertise, and best practices with each other; and

  • (best of all!) connected with each other and established a sense of trust that is a solid foundation for future collaboration.

Rather than standing firmly in their own spaces, they’ve bridged their unique mandates and created an “atoll”[1] that is stronger, more resilient, and more beautiful because of the connections that now exist.

And yet, in business, we so rarely invest in collaborative conversations or projects. We act as if our businesses are islands unto themselves; that each of us (and our businesses) have all the knowledge, resources, time, and energy needed at our fingertips to succeed and thrive in all situations.

I question if this perspective is helping us grow and evolve as business owners. How might we learn from the collaborative work happening in our communities ?

For over a decade, there has been recognition that community organizations need to adopt better business practices. The flip side, of course, is: what best practices might businesses learn from the community sector? How might businesses learn to work together to achieve more with less?

In the past three months, I’ve set my intention to engage in more collaborative conversations with other small businesses to explore how we might work together to achieve a shared vision—after all, there are many businesses doing similar or complementary work.

These conversations have led to some inspired conversations; conversations that have reignited the spark inside me for increased collaboration. It’s exciting!

When I look at my intention poster for 2017, collaboration helps me check off a number of boxes around achieving positive abundance (my theme for the year). I’m excited to forging ahead, exploring, and crafting partnerships with local entrepreneurs who, like me, see the value in collaboration and who are driven to grow their businesses.

What’s stopping you from collaborating? Or, if you are collaborating, what is your best piece of advice for creating a successful collaborative partnership? Please share your questions and insights below in the comments.


[1] “An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets. An atoll surrounds a body of water called a lagoon. Sometimes, atolls and lagoons protect a central island. Channels between islets connect a lagoon to the open ocean or sea.” From: Accessed: 2017-06-27

21 views0 comments
bottom of page