The Easiest and Costliest Mistakes to Make in Workplace Collaboration

Anyone who has collaborated would have experienced some mistakes. What are the mistakes we commonly make in collaboration; particularly in intra-organisational collaboration?

...ignoring contribution leads to failed collaboration....

…ignoring contribution leads to failed collaboration….

While the long list of candidates for the easiest and costliest collaboration mistakes is worth addressing in full, this week I have chosen the simples one to commit, the easiest to avoid and one of the costliest; ignoring and undervaluing what others have to offer and what they are capable of! Collaboration can easily turn into a ‘show and tell’ exercise. It often starts (and this is partly because we are only human) with the need to position our own status in a team as valuable or dominant, or whatever the particular psychology of each individual may be.

Now, technically speaking, when we define collaboration we need to remember that it is virtually impossible to find someone who can complete their work unless they act with others. But that is not mean the same as collaborating, as I have explained numerous times before. Like in this piece here.

I want to make it clear that whilst teamwork is in a large degree about collaboration, it is not entirely so without a deeper governance structure which is ultimately based on collaboration strategy. All this makes up the bulk of collaboration culture.

Getting back to the pesky behaviours that waste valuable time and resources in business, I think we shouldn’t be too dismissive of the power of habit and personal urges to look good in a group. However, in my experience, I have found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time wasted by a group attempting to collaborate by first trying to work out its own dynamic, and a good collaboration model that is structured strategically before the actual work of collaboration starts. It is worth noting that people who collaborate also experience a range of benefits. So the time wasted by improvising the structure of collaboration where participants are jostling for a better position can be used more productively. The default setting of any collaboration model should be based on an expectation of better outcomes.

The well-structured model of collaboration is what can make all the difference in the long run. Structuring the model and process may be boring. But, without the boring bits there can be no fun. So to borrow that all-time favourite analogy of balcony and dance; the collaboration strategy is the balcony and the actual collaboration is the dance. Spending a little extra effort on the balcony is what will result in a better collaboration; one where no contribution is overlooked, participants are rewarded and, most of all, all members are fully committed.


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