No-Dread Collaboration

Rob Preston, editor of InformationWeek, has an interesting take on “Why Some People ‘Dread’ Collaboration.”

He points out that a primary reason people “dread” collaborating is due to the amount of time and energy it consumes and that they often feel pestered and pressured to use tools they think they can solve on their own.

Now here is my beef: How come so many people – especially those in the IT sector – define collaboration so narrowly to mean the “tools” that get people working together?

A case in point is a Kelton Research project that reported that more than 80 percent of survey respondents think that enterprise-wide collaboration is the key to their companies’ success, and 75 percent of them said their companies plan to increase their use of communications and collaboration tools, such as wikis, in the coming year.

But why do so many folks  have such a narrow technology and tool-based definition of collaboration?

I was glad to see Preston rightfully point out there are two kinds of collaboration: “The kind that stimulates new ideas, solves problems, enhances teamwork, and distributes expertise; and the kind people use to cover their butts and show off in front of their peers and bosses. The first kind tends to propagate naturally, feeding off the culture of an organization; the second kind happens when the methods and tools are force fit, rendering collaboration an exercise unto itself.”

Preston goes on to point out (and I agree)  that if people have to be pestered to use a particular tool or technology to get them to work together ultimately it will likely be unsuccessful, especially if it adds additional steps to what people perceive as a perfectly functional way to work together.

So if people “dread” collaboration, why is Vested Outsourcing gaining in popularity? It’s because it addresses the first kind of collaboration that Preston describes. It goes beyond tools and technology into deep problem solving using distributed experience.

Vested Outsourcing and the Five Rules lay the foundation for successful collaboration that creates an atmosphere and ecosystem of innovation, teamwork and shared incentives. If you are working together to focus on desired outcomes (Rule 1) that are clearly defined and measurable (Rule 3) under a governance structure that engenders insight and not just oversight (Rule 5), then that, my friend, is true collaboration!

It was the Cat in the Hat who said, “It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how!” In the same vein, it’s fun to collaborate, but you have to know how!

And that means moving beyond the contemporary IT definitions of collaboration of applying tools and technology for people to work better.

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