Collaboration at Work: The Promise and Perils

In an article for Strategy + Business entitled The Promise (and Perils) of Open Collaboration, author Andrea Gabor identifies the challenges organizations face when they choose to adopt a collaborative work environment.   According to Gabor, the biggest obstacle for an organization is the deep change required in the way knowledge is controlled and shared — changes that have the potential to alter relationships both within the company and with its outside constituents. Anything short of total commitment, Gabor warns, is likely to lead to short-lived improvements and eventual failure.

For organizations considering open collaboration, Gabor recommends a clear-headed look at the challenges associated with the change and she identifies seven essential strategies to making it work including:

  1. Creating a clear leadership message
  2. Collaborating with customers
  3. Building a culture of trust and open communication
  4. Cultivating continuous improvement
  5. Building a flexible innovation infrastructure
  6. Preparing your organization for new skill sets
  7. Aligning evaluations and rewards

The article points out that “open collaboration is a complex, all-embracing process, requiring genuine commitment from corporate leaders, a willingness to abandon many venerable corporate customs, and an appetite for unleashing and managing disruptive change across the organization.”  But Gabor also encourages organizations to move forward and continue to develop their approach to open collaboration, because for those that do there are great benefits as well.

Sometime today or tomorrow, be sure to read—or save, this article—it’s one of the best on collaboration that we’ve seen. 

And if you are looking for a little additional inspiration and insight on the subject, check out the on-demand webcast of Pass the Ball: The Power of Collaboration.  This is a presentation Ken Blanchard did together with Cisco WebEx in June as a part of their Pass the Ball initiative. Ken shares his thoughts on getting others involved, how a philosophy of “none of us is as smart as all of us” helps everyone accomplish more, and the difference between serving and self-serving behavior.


2 thoughts on “Collaboration at Work: The Promise and Perils

  1. David,

    Every once in a while, one comes across an article that simply can’t be improved upon or even added to without the additional info being redundant.

    I believe this is one of those articles – an article that every person who is passionate about collaboration should read.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Take care and create a great day!


  2. It is all about building a culture of trust and open communication. The other six points can be seen in any general strategic context of an organization. For example, a paranoid corporate culture will never reach an collaborative communication style, no matter how good it meets the essential strategies listed.

    The problem / process is less complex, but the way to master it is very individual as organizations are not all the same.

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