On Collaboration: Part One

Collaboration. It may be the word of the year, or the word of the decade.  Harvard Business Review devoted an entire issue to it last year.  The concept has piqued my interest and so I’ve pursued it further.  Here I'll share a little bit of what I’ve discovered, served up in a semi-bite-sized dish.

My findings (and experience) on Collaboration are three-fold.  

First, Collaboration, if accomplished effectively, results in multiple individuals coming together with distinct skill sets, viewpoints and ideas to build on one other: to push, to pull, and to ultimately come out with a notably improved outcome than what might have been the outcome of any one individual independently.  

Second, Collaboration is a science. And an art. There are processes and tools and techniques to achieve Collaboration to guide people towards this desired positive outcome, and alternatively, to achieve the exact opposite.  

Finally, Collaboration is NOT about learning how to get along.  By this last point, I mean that Collaboration by definition should not mean ‘adjusting to personality types’ or simply learning how to get specific persons working well together.  This is an important distinction. Collaboration, if accomplished effectively, represents a ‘way’ of working; it represents a technique, a skill, which individual parties can bring to a group scenario, and apply. And the degree to which they apply that skill in the group setting becomes a determinant of effective performance outcomes.

Of course all of these parts, one to three, still only amount to my perspective. But my academic readings and personal experiences thus far support my perspective.

From my reviews, the concept of Collaboration is only beginning to be academically unpacked; it appears that it has not yet been explored sufficiently by any key theorist(s) around the world in order to be able to transfer those skills to students or workers in classroom or office settings in a coordinated, consistent way.

I have become somewhat attached to this concept of Collaboration, and indeed, inspired to pursue it further.  In particular, I have come across a journal article that really captured my attention. In Part Two On Collaboration, to be posted soon, I will summarize this article whereby the authors put some science around the murky concept of Collaboration. They share some validated guidance for how to help make Collaboration happen productively.

Until then, and in the spirit of the concept, please do share your thoughts with me.

Heidi McCulloch

1 Comment

  • Daniel Milstein said

    That is so true Heidi. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said "Of course all of these parts, one to three, still only amount to my perspective. But my academic readings and personal experiences thus far support my perspective". I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!

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Tags: Teamwork, Productivity