Bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration at all according to Morten T. Hansen, author and professor. And if you think about this you’ll realise that the man does have a point. So many companies believe that collaboration is the only way. It’s the panacea for success. They throw different types of technology and software at it. Many CEOs force employees into this culture of collaboration while they themselves don’t act on that directive.

But the secret to successful collaboration is to know when you should and when you shouldn’t do it.

When collaboration is appropriate:

When your team is ready. Your company’s corporate culture is the most critical factor in determining whether collaboration is appropriate. You can have the best tools, the most skilled staff members, but unless your company has a collaborative culture, you won’t succeed.

When your staff trust each other. Trust is critical for successful collaboration, in fact success in general. It has to be earned and nurtured. If you have staff hoarding information or taking all the glory for shared ideas, then you definitely have a challenge and you need to shift the corporate culture. In a suspicious culture people withhold information and refuse to take part in any collaborative events. People who trust each other will work together and share information.

When you have the right tools. Online collaboration for example requires tools like online editing, synchronisation services as well as sharing and collaboration sites.

When you have the right skills. You may need to train some of your staff members how this culture of collaboration works, especially if your company has an underlying competitive streak. Once they have the skills and knowledge it should become easier to implement.

When your staff sees value. What’s in it for me? If I share this information with Steve and his team, will I be giving away my reason for being here? If people think that there’s nothing in it for them, they are not going to bother. Incentivise staff members when they work together either financially or psychologically.

Remember to take a close look at the project you have and ask yourself whether collaboration is the best option this time. Some projects are better off being done by individuals. When collaboration is done right, it is empowering and yields great results. But when it’s done badly, it can fail spectacularly

Lucy Wimmer

Director of Global Corporate Communications


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