My Success, My Collaboration

August 17, 2009 - 6 Comments

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” — Vince Lombardi

In my recent blog on the study, Collaboration: Know Your Enthusiasts and Laggards (.pdf), I reviewed our second key finding: organizational culture influences collaboration success. Company culture is clearly set by the CEO and promulgated by senior management. Thus, our third finding should come as no surprise: in companies that consider themselves advantaged by collaboration, the employees recognized it as critical to their work and individual success.In our top two collaboration segments, 83 percent of Collaboration Enthusiasts and 82 percent of Comfortable Collaborators recognize that collaboration contributed to their individual success at work. The research shows when collaborative practices are openly rewarded and included in performance reviews, it drives the behavior across the enterprise. Not all worker groups agree. In the two weakest collaboration segments, Reluctant Collaborators and Collaboration Laggards, the survey participants do not view collaboration as a make or break factor. Interestingly, these segments include more individual contributors who have been at the companies or in their job roles for the longest tenures.According to 75 percent of respondents, work practices are more collaborative today than they were two years ago. Email and phone conferencing remain the most frequently used tools for collaboration, but other tools are being adopted rapidly. More than 75 percent use web conferencing, 68 percent use video collaboration, and about 40 percent use wikis and blogs.Yet for a lot of companies, the legend of the superhero senior manager or executive who comes up with all the answers — working alone, late into the night — remains deeply ingrained in the corporate psyche. Indeed, in a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Tammy Erickson captured the transition senior management must undergo if they will influence the culture of collaboration. She calls it “pull management.” Erickson notes: “Today, encouraging a greater number of people to go just a little bit further is the essential job of leaders. Long gone is the time when our primary management challenge was to ensure that workers performed tasks consistently and reliably, using standardized best practices. Now we need “pull” approaches, geared to encourage individuals to share their ideas more widely and constructively, to push the boundaries of what’s possible further — or to be more collaborative and innovative.” Or, as John Donne, the English Poet and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral noted over 400 years ago “no man is an island.”

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’m currently at a University (Stanford to be Precise), and all of our professors emphasize collaboration to a high degree. It really allows all factions of one interest to gather and assimilate into one, diverse, effort. Sort of similar to an efficient think tank, if you will.

  2. Was very disappointed to find Cisco and Arrowpoint’s name as references of Rich Kolikof of The Winthrop Research Group. I have a friend who sent out to her friends via email to watch a Sean Hannity show. There was nothing more than that. She encouraged both Republicans and Democrats to watch it. He got message from his sister and responded to my friend Blanche in vulgar profanity. This kind of a man is sick and demented. He also evidently feels we in America no longer have freedom of speech. Shame on you for hiring a man like this to do anything let alone letting him list your companies as references.

  3. Interesting article, Alan. What have they found in the research is the key motivator for Collaboration to work, and how does the reward system best recognize contribution of teams versus individuals through Performance Management using est practices””? I have my own theory, but I am interested in research data, if there is any.”

  4. You can leave collaboration to chance, and hope that encouragement and leadership will produce a team culture, but there are other methods. Some years ago I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to create new business processes within my remit as IT Exploitation Manager for a pharmaceutical company. Using email processes, I created a team dependency and a new role that I called the Workgroup Assistant. My processes forced team working by asking participants to give up carrying out everyday tasks and allow another member of the team to do them on their behalf. The results were very satisfying. Quote from my pilot WA I felt valued, involved and gained the respect of my mangers and their teams…most enjoyable role of my career””.”

  5. To me, there is no such thing as a weak or unproductive work, there’s only a weak leader. That’s why it is important that the person on top should play an aggressive role to gel the team members together working collaboratively as one single unit.

  6. Hi Alan, great piece as always.Maybe instead of ‘pull management’ it should be called simply ‘punting’.Don’t be afraid to let go of the reins …it’s incredibly freeing to have others take control.