Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Kill Collaboration

Collaboration is an important buzzword around the workplace today, but David Strom’s observation several years ago that there is a belief that “sharing is still for sissies” can still ring true today. 
Strom noted that until that attitude changes, “the headphones will stay firmly stuck in our ears, blocking out the rest of the world around us,” he wrote.
While companies often tout their collaborative culture and employees cite their “collaborative” style during annual performance reviews, the difficult truth is that not only has collaboration failed to thrive in many organizations – it’s a downright disaster.
Here are some of the biggest goofs that upend collaborative efforts:
  1. Creating teams just because. Nearly 60 years of research shows that individuals are really much more creative than teams, finds Leigh Thompson, the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Management and Dispute Resolution at the Kellogg School. If one person really does have the skills and knowledge to complete a project, then don’t form a team to do what one person can do better. “Please don’t create a team just for the sake of creating a team,” she says. “People hate that.”
  2. Costs are ignored. Organizations get so caught up in the idea of collaboration they don’t take the time to think about whether it makes bottom-line business sense. Is the process going to be automated so that participants aren’t duplicating efforts, adding unnecessary meetings or working with outdated data? As Morten T. Hansen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley notes: “Cross-company collaboration typically means traveling more, coordinating work, and haggling over objectives and the sharing of information. The resulting tension that can develop between parties often creates significant costs: delays in getting to market, budget overruns, lower quality, limited cost savings, lost sales, and damaged customer relationships.”
  3. Not everyone is on the same page. There is often plenty of eye rolling when it’s discovered a team member is avoiding a collaborative process because he or she is uncomfortable with the technology being used, or doesn’t really understand a platform. That can lead to such awkwardness among team members it can bog down (read more here)

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