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Collaboration: Do’s and Don’ts

Of the many management theories and practices that have been introduced in recent years, none is as widespread as the team model. This model brings significant efficiency when understood and used properly.

As with any practice, things can go awry. This newsletter will look at the elements of collaboration. Often confused with teamwork itself, collaboration is properly understood as methods to increase the efficiency of a team. I list here those elements that support collaboration and by extension, a team, along with those elements than can diminish collaboration.

What supports collaboration?

  • clear roles
  • ability to do work independently, then bring it to the team
  • common goals
  • meetings with specific agendas
  • being open to others’ views/ideas
  • agreeing to disagree when necessary
  • handling disagreements constructively
  • recognition of rules, knowledge, perspectives
  • an open pathway to achieve goals- deliberate ambiguity inspires and supports
  • creativity
  • awareness of different personalities and perspectives For example:
    • factual versus intuitive
    • structured versus spontaneous

Which of these elements are present/not present at your work?

What can you collectively or individually do about those elements that are not present at your work?

What diminishes or threatens collaboration?

  • personal agendas
  • too many meetings that go nowhere
  • fear of inciting disagreement
  • lack of clear goals
  • taking disagreements personally
  • being hi-jacked by emotional states
  • fear of retribution, retaliation
  • politics
  • fear of being perceived as lacking in something/stupid
  • not stating why you disagree (can be political)
  • outsized egos
  • loss of stature or authority
  • habitual way of doing things
  • past disputes
  • cross-functional collaboration can be difficult
  • high complexity in a project can lead to more failures and retreat from collaboration
  • collaboration fatigue- “I’ve had enough of this”
  • high demand/low control
  • diversity- age and ethnicity

Which of these elements are/have been present at your work?

What can you collectively or individually do about those elements?

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