How to Capture Value from Collaboration, Especially If You’re Skeptical About It

This is an reading response. The article and images come from <How to Capture Value from Collaboration, Especially If You’re Skeptical About It> by Heidi K. Gardner and Herminia Ibarra



Teamwork all too often feels inefficient (search and coordination costs eat up time), risky(can I trust others to deliver for my client?), low value (our own area of expertise always seems most critical), and political (a sneaky way of self-promoting to other areas of one’s firm). Lurking behind these reservations may be concerns about losing relevance, becoming one of those “charismatic” leaders so often criticized as “all form, no substance.”

When we judge other’s work or group work, we usually put ourselves at a relevantly high position.

Know What Collaboration Is — and What It Isn’t

Collaboration is a way of working that attracts and involves people outside one’s formal control, organization, and expertise to accomplish common goals. Understanding what collaboration is not is a crucial part of getting better at it.

It is interesting that when we cannot explain something very clearly, we can turn to another side to say it is not something.

Collaboration is not a style. Many people naively see collaboration as a leadership style in which relationships take precedence over the task at hand. But collaboration is not consensus. On the contrary, clarity about where the buck stops is one of the most critical enablers of efficient teamwork.

This is a necessary to know balance. Collaboration does’t mean the group must reach an agreement. Collaboration is not a result. It happens and affects in the process.

We desire to the agreement, which means hopefully everybody could fully understand and support each other. It would help the whole group step into the next stage more smoothly. Otherwise, people would not want to work together anymore. If we think in this way, it means agreement in a group is to build a harmonious atmosphere, is to contribute to human management, is to keep project running. But for collaboration itself, it already works. It doesn’t need an agreement.

Collaboration is not always the answer. Former Ogilvy CEO Charlotte Beers was famous for saying, “Collaboration is highly overrated when you don’t have the right thing to do.” Collaboration is suitable for certain tasks and unsuitable for others. Too often, people will try to collaborate on everything, and wind up in endless meetings, debating ideas and struggling to find consensus.

Let’s keep thinking in this way, collaboration is a willing during the working process. So it should end at some point.

Contribute to someone else’s project. Coming to know how and when to collaborate is a learning process. Working with old hands before you forge a project of your own helps you pick up the routines, processes, and tools that make collaboration efficient. This insider knowledge can also help you identify future situations when collaboration is smart and most likely to pay off.

During the collaboration it is easy for us to take is as granted that everyone has equal position. In fact, contributing to someone’s idea or being a facilitator in other’s project are also dominated practical collaborations.


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