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Collaboration for One, Collaboration for All

August 31, 2009 - 2 Comments

“Tous pour un, un pour tous. ” (All for one, one for all.) – Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

The fifth and final key finding from the study, Collaboration: Know Your Enthusiasts and Laggards (pdf), is the most unexpected: collaboration is useful in organizations of all sizes. A company of 300 people can benefit from collaboration equally as much as a company of 30,000. The study contradicted traditional expectations that collaboration is more prevalent in large enterprises. In our top two collaborator segments, Collaboration Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators, the distribution between enterprise and midmarket companies is nearly equal. 35% of our Collaboration Enthusiasts are in midmarket sized companies, while 28% are in enterprise sized companies. Similarly, 24% of our Comfortable Collaborators are in midmarket sized companies and 35% are in enterprises. This suggests that culture, process, and access to the right tools are more important for successful collaboration than other factors associated with the size of a company.With nearly half of Enthusiastic Collaborators, 44%, in organizations with 500 to 999 employees, we think that the preponderance of mid-sized organizations in the Enthusiastic Collaborators segment might reflect their more fluid departmental boundaries. Employees who have met people in other departments within smaller companies, through everyday encounters, may be more inclined to proactively collaborate. Necessity is the mother of invention.While strong collaboration environments are found across company sizes and industry types, our research found that government and not-for-profits lag in adoption of tools and the presence of strong collaborators. 65% of Collaboration Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators work in for-profit environments. In comparison, 56% of Collaboration Laggards and Reluctant Collaborators are in government, education, and not-for-profit organizations. Perhaps the traditional structures of these entities as well as potential roadblocks associated with security/technology issues influence this statistic.Overall the study led us to several conclusions. Collaboration can be learned and it can be measured; it should be viewed as science as much as art. Successful collaboration depends more upon management’s behavior toward use of collaboration tools and processes than the size of the company. And, when people regard collaboration as essential to their work, they reap the greatest productivity and innovation benefits.Further, the study revealed several strategies that companies of all sizes and industries can adopt: • Recognize that personal attitudes and organizational culture are as important as the collaboration tools.• Encourage executives to model the desired collaboration practices.• Reward collaboration, include it in performance reviews, and offer rewards for successful outcomes, or both.• Implement formal collaboration processes.• Provide the tools, IT support, and training needed to support collaboration.At the end of day, this is about successful execution. As my colleague Randy Pond noted last week in his discussion of Cisco’s own collaboration initiatives: “What’s clear to me is that the most important advantage we’ve gained is a structure that allows us to quickly pull together cross-company functional experts that are empowered to make decisions and drive execution that’s good for both our customers and our shareholders.”

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  1. Collaboration definitely benifits single as well as multilevel contacts. Encourage executives to model the desired collaboration practices. Benificial for organizations.

  2. Necessity is the mother of invention.”” – Yes you are absolutely right. This post is really informative. Thank you and wait for such valuable news”