To ensure collaboration bears fruit rather than poisons a project those involved must practice disciplined collaboration. Disciplined Collaboration is a three-step process that begins with evaluating opportunities for cooperation. Next, one must spot barriers to collaboration. Finally, solutions to those barriers must be created.

In step one, evaluating opportunity for collaboration, one must remember that collaboration is a means to an end. Again, the key point of collaboration is to achieve better results, not simply to collaborate for the sake of collaboration. As such, there are times when it may be imperative to collaborate and times when collaboration is undesirable. Knowing how to spot the difference is the key to step one. There is no secret to knowing when not to collaborate; however, a good rule of thumb is that if there is no compelling reason to collaborate, then do not.

For corporations, compelling reasons would be if a collaborative effort appears likely to result in innovation, cutting costs, or attracting new customers. For government and non-profits, compelling reasons would be to cut costs, gain access to talent, resources, and ideas. The next step to disciplined collaboration necessitates spotting barriers to collaboration.

There are really three main barriers to spot. The first is a culture or attitude that discourages creativity or that results in reticence of individuals to help each other or share information. The second is an issue of organization. Be it the corporate structure or lack of information on the company intranet, poor organization and lack of information hinder collaboration by making it difficult for people to find the information and resources they need to collaborate.

Thirdly, there can be an issue of communication that complicates the sharing of information between individuals or departments. Once spotted these barriers must be removed using a combination of levers, commonly referred to as the unification, people, and network levers

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