Productive collaboration is more like tending a garden than building a spaceship. There is always something that needs your attention, but with the right tools everyone can get good things to grow. The Let’s Go Model – a tool created to help leaders navigate collaboration – outlines the five dynamics you need to tend to.
Is collaboration over-ripe?
Encouragements to collaborate are all around us, with 30% of FTSE 100 companies having collaboration or teamwork as one of their values. It was back in 2012 that the IBM Global CEO Study really announced its significance: “Collaboration is the number one trait CEOs are seeking in their employees, with 75% of CEOs calling it critical.” And if the world has moved on since then, it’s not towards silos – most sectors are waking up to the interdependencies between initiatives as they attempt to navigate complexity. But everything ripe needs to be picked at the right time. And some are starting to bemoan that collaboration is a rotten fruit. The Economist wrote about the ‘collaboration curse’, decrying
what it saw as the distracting enemy of “deep work”. Meanwhile, Rob Cross’s HBR article ‘Collaborative Overload’ outlined how the best collaborators become workflow bottlenecks and burn out. Before we can even get into assessments of whether collaboration has gone too far, we need to clarify what we mean. When everything from open-plan oﬃces to joint ventures gets labelled ‘collaboration’, its definition is muddy. As with other vast concepts like strategy and innovation, if we aren’t careful collaboration ends up meaning everything and nothing – and the whole conversation starts to leave a bad taste.
What is collaboration, anyway?
For the sake of this article – and for the sake of our sanity more broadly – when we speak about collaboration we mean getting things done in groups, where we are working across borders – be they functional, regional, or organizational. Whether a collaboration is something little (like aligning pricing across a portfolio of products) or something big (like creating a cross-division or cross-company strategy), it can always be
Q2 2018 Dialogue