Collaboration is increasingly necessary for success in business. According to recent research, the degree of collaboration within an organisation has been proven to have a strong corollary to innovation (.81, according to research commissioned by Google!)
In the current literature there are a number of similar ways to define collaboration. Perhaps the most clear and concise definition, contributed comes from Morten Hansen, who writes “collaboration takes place when people from different units work together in cross-unit teams on a common task or provide significant help to each other.” It can be joint work between units or a one-way collaboration, as when one unit provides advice to another. When executed properly it boosts efficiency and creativity and enhances outcomes.
While properly executed, disciplined collaboration has its benefits, bad or improper project collaboration is characterized by friction, lack of focus, and poor results, and can be extremely harmful. Avoiding bad collaboration and identifying and exploiting all opportunities for good collaboration requires that organisations are vigilant in remaining focused on the goal of collaboration: to achieve better results. This means, it may often be preferable to work independently on projects, and all team members may need to be free and to feel free to decide not to collaborate in situations where collaboration would not achieve demonstrably better results.
In instances where collaboration is deemed useful, collaboration can still harm results if not undertaken properly. A basic three-step approach to disciplined collaboration can ensure that collaboration bears fruit. First, carefully select which projects to collaborate on and which not to collaborate on. Second, understand the barriers that prevent employees from collaborating. Third and finally, design management solutions to tear down those barriers.