Old school geeks have been collaborating since the beginning of the internet, if not before. I’ve seen it in action. A tricky piece of code gets posted on a forum and hours later the answer appears. How amazing is that?

The first time I saw this I thought: “What’s the catch?” Cynical I know, but people don’t do things just because. But I soon realized that the next time the person who posted the solution has a problem, they will get an answer too. My biology teacher called it mutualism. Like birds cleaning a crocodile’s teeth. The crocodile won’t eat the bird that happily pecks inside its mouth because it gets free dental care.

The value of collaboration is not easily measured simply because value is such a subjective idea. A string of beads given to you by your first love can become a valuable possession for you, whereas someone else thinks it’s just a trinket.

However, there are instances when collaboration value can be measured, such as time savings and increased productivity. It can be tricky to measure things like access to experts within an organisation or back-up  and support when making a decision.

Today, it’s not only IT departments or office workers that find value in collaboration. Global mining group Rio Tinto uses collaboration in the field. The organization had a problem with one of its bulldozers in Australia and, through its internal collaboration forum, a colleague in the States provided a solution.

What examples of the value of collaboration do you have? Let us know in the comments.

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