—Brent Carlson-Lee, Founder & Owner of Eli’s Donut Burgers

Branding, innovation and collaboration are critically important to business success; however, the meanings of these concepts are often misconstrued.

While countless articles and blogs have debated the topics of branding and innovation, the chatter on collaboration has been relatively silent.

Is it that everyone holds a singular, shared definition of collaboration and blindly accepts the notion as universally important? Or that questioning the institution of collaboration is considered tantamount to mutiny on the corporate ship?

From my experience, most have only a vague definition of collaboration, which often equates to compromise; however, the distinction is very meaningful.

Compromise is sitting around the campfire, holding hands, singing “Kumbaya.”

Collaboration is sitting around the table having tough, productive, eyeball-to-eyeball discussions.

Compromise is saying yes to something you don’t like.

Collaboration requires saying no to preconceived solutions and partial interests.

Compromise is rounding off the edges of great ideas to reduce risk.

Collaboration is truly working together to create optimal solutions.

Compromise is the lifeblood of mediocrity.

Collaboration is the lifeblood of breakthrough innovation.

But you don’t need to take my word for it—just look to one guy who knew a little bit about developing new products:

"Focusing is about saying no.And when you say no, you piss people off. But the result is truly great products." —Steve Jobs