Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Collaboration Doesn’t Work?

To execute major initiatives in any organsiation, like managing complex projects, integrating acquiring firms, implementing products and solution we deploy cross functional teams (CFT). Inherently it is expected that CFT’s will work in collaboration and deliver desired results.
Recently one group approached me to write something on “Collaboration”, as usual I countered them about “are we really collaborating today?”, “Why Collaboration doesn’t work?” and so on.
After googling on those thoughts, I found following quotes which are relevant for this article.
“Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ‘em to play together is the hard part.”
“Collaboration works until you go beyond the bounds of human connection. Organizations can’t collaborate – People can”

“Politeness is the poison of collaboration.”

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success knows how to get along with people.”
Typically organizations initiate collaborative activities for complex tasks, leverage cross functional expertise, dealing with strategic issues and looking for long term solution. In such process either people get nominated or join voluntarily. Following are the key aspects I see why collaboration doesn’t work:
Participant challenges:
     People’s availability is always a priority instead of desired skills to collaborate.
     People are ready to reinvent the wheel instead of re-use it from other sources.
>      Try to get 100% consensus when it is not needed.
>      People underestimate the value of what they know so they don’t share
>      Differentiating useful information and useless information to share across team
>      People seek out like minds who entrench their own thinking
>      People are averse to sharing information in written form
>      Experts often speak in jargon. They don’t know they aren’t communicating, and non-experts are afraid to ask.
>      People confuse between collaboration and co-operation and often end up co-operating instead of collaborating.
Missing skills to collaborate:
>      Listen, listen and listen.
>      Ready learn from others irrespective of grades, locations, functions
>      Effective communication with right attitude
>      Time management to adhere results
>      Understanding the objectives for collaboration
>      Accountability and ready to change
Organization level issues:
>      Culture of company sometime not allow to share the information
>      Wrong selection of leader or function to drive collaboration task
>      Unable to providing adequate support and budget to get desired results
>      People with the most valuable knowledge have the least time to share it
>      Collaborative tasks typically treated as free time activities or no-cost activities
>      Lack of support and investment for training, incentives, processes, technology platforms
Pitfall of Collaboration platform/ Technologies:
>      Collaboration platform sometime treated as repository or document management system
>      People who does collaborative tasks does not have control on that platforms
>      People find ways to work around imposed tool or processes that they don’t like
>      Lack of appreciation for the collaborative platform and the teams managing it
Collaboration is difficult because it requires critical thinking skills and creativity and that we have one goal and that we be innovative in the way that we seek to fulfill that goal.
Collaboration will not occur on a continuing basis unless the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) question is answered clearly for all those involved in any collaboration upfront.