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Does Collaboration Work?

collaboration

Sometimes.

I have watched individuals, organizations, businesses, corporations, governments come together to tackle issues, improve services, build a better mousetrap, and defeat injustice. In a few cases the partnering of resources and expertise has worked but more often than not impact wasn’t magnified.

Tension, distrust, bureaucracy, memorandums, policies, processes, egos, lethargy, all work against success in collaborative efforts.

Last year I volunteered with a group of five social agencies purportedly trying to solve a critical issue. After four meetings establishing terms of reference, roles and responsibilities, budget and meeting schedules one of the participants said ” This is going to be great. None of us are going to have to work as hard with all of us working together.” I was surprised by the nods around the room and dismayed that they didn’t realize that with all of them pulling on the rope together they could move the ship faster and further if they didn’t reduce their efforts.

Governments come together to reduce CO2, battle terrorism, fight poverty, solve economic problems and it seems way more effort goes into getting along than finding and implementing action. (I know my action bias is showing) National agendas clash, credit is misrepresented, commitments lapse and it appears that the joint effort is more about photo ops and lip service than solutions.

Individuals seem to fair better at working together, formally or informally. Agreement on goals and action needed comes faster and shorter timelines are established. My experience in cocreation with others has been mostly positive because in a group of 2,3, or 4 there isn’t much hiding or dodging. We can get down to business.

I am not saying that businesses, governments and charities shouldn’t work together, I am suggesting that there must be a better way of wrangling the horses and getting them to pull as a team.

Thoughts, suggestions, comments?

One thought on “Does Collaboration Work?

  1. Thanks for the post Bob. I am currently working on putting together a team of up to three others to develop and implement a web presence. This has given me an affirmation that this has a good chance of success.

    Like

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