cooperation vs. collaboration

April 20, 2015

“Collaboration: being fully assertive and fully cooperative – at the same time” – Ambassador Enterprises, LLC

One thing I learned at AE was the value of collaboration and that it was often fiery and unpleasant; full of conflict with strong and intelligent people going at it over an idea. But the beautiful thing was that they weren’t trying to win an argument – they were trying to find the best solution for the problem at hand. It had nothing to do with their relationships / friendships – it was about doing their very best – as a team – to arrive at the best solution.

Following is part of an article from Harvard Business Review on how managers mistake cooperativeness for collaboration:

Having worked with hundreds of managers over the years, I’ve seen that very few admit to being poor collaborators, mostly because they mistake their cooperativeness for being collaborative. And indeed, most managers are cooperative, friendly, and willing to share information — but what they lack is the ability and flexibility to align their goals and resources with others in real time. Sometimes this starts at the top of the organization when senior leaders don’t fully synchronize their strategies and performance measures with each other. More often, however, the collaboration challenge resides with department heads, product leaders, and major initiative managers who need to get everyone on the same page – and shouldn’t wait for senior executives to force the issue for them.

Collaboration is hard work, but necessary if you want your organization to rise above being mediocre.