I have been reading the work of Dr Mark Elliott. He has lots of very interesting stuff to say about the future of collaboration and more specifically about how mass global collaboration can be effectively realised. Have a look at his website:
One of the very simple but insightful observations he makes is about how collaboration differs from cooperation. Collaboration involves creativity and innovation and cooperation does not.
Think about people coming together to form a partnership of some kind. Firstly they have to co-ordinate themselves and their resources so that they can be effectively called upon and combined. It is about getting the right people and resources in the right place at the right time.
The next step is to create systems and processes, some rules of the partnership game, that can be used to ensure the various partners can cooperate efficiently. It is about the mechanics of agreeing what will happen, when it will happen, how it will happen and who will do it.
When these first two stages have been achieved the partnership can build upon them and work towards true creative collaboration. They can do this by working hard at making the relationships between partners open, honest, tolerant and even welcoming of differing perspectives and the tensions these generate. As the relationships develop so too does the partnership's ability to harvest innovative ideas from the creative tensions increasingly being generated between people. The interplay of conflicting views becomes the source of the partnership's creative energy.
Think about the production of an opera or musical. It will go through each of the above phases: the company will come together; it will learn the details and rules of the work; it will then, if the production is going to be any good, explore and encourage differing approaches and interpretations and eventually select those most suited to its overall vision and goals.
If you are working in a partnership consider the following questions:
- Are you absolutely sure you have all the people and resources available to you that you need?
- Do you really know the rules of your particular partnership game? Does everyone know what they are?
- Are you ready and willing to be honest with others?
- Are you ready and willing to encourage others to be honest with you?
- Are you ready and willing to be not only tolerant but also welcoming of others' views and ideas?
For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition