By Stéphanie Duvault-Alexandre, Senior Presales Consultant
Once upon a time some gurus began to point all of us in the right direction, i.e. collaboration.
Indeed, individualism and lone-wolf attitudes were, and have been since, considered as non-productive practices that only created an obstacle to the process of achieving company’s goals.
For years people have tried to set up collaborative processes within their business. They started by highlighting collaboration benefits within their own department, then proceeded to spread the message to the other services and the company as a whole.
Before going further, it would be good to remind ourselves what does the word “collaboration” mean?
To collaborate (co-labour) means to work together and act as a team, in order to achieve shared objectives. All the stakeholders are invited to share their knowledge and skills, to contribute to produce or achieve something together. What a great idea!
It seems so simple, so why are companies still struggling to put it in place? Why do we hear so often that people are working on their own with no support from other services and departments?
It is actually quite straight forward…
When people collaborate, they participate in a project or become a part of an assignment. Their contribution is linked with a context, a situation which is fully framed by time and space constraints. Once the project is over and the results are reached, they are not compelled to carry on working with the others. They just carry on working on their own individual tasks.
Above all, what is really key when discussing collaboration is that people decide whether they accept to share their knowledge or not. If there is no need to be involved more than necessary, it just becomes a question of individual responsibility.
We cannot stop collaborating but yet it is still not enough. Especially when company’s goals are becoming more and more ambitious.
So how do we insure that the individual knowledge and know-how can become fundamental to company’s performance?
The answer is to cooperate. Yes, cooperate!
Essentially, to cooperate (co-operate) means to perform together.
People do not only act as a group, they ARE the group. They are interconnected and interdependent. They all aim at reaching the group’s common goal. Unlike collaboration, cooperation is based upon everyone’s will to participate, committing themselves to complete the same objective. They accept to make themselves available at any time and to communicate every information they get to help the others complete their own tasks and work. In this case information and data are pooled together to fuel the group’s machinery in order to implement processes effectively. In the end, every action made for the group’s common interest benefits to every person involved individually.
What is brought by one person becomes useless if there is no contribution from others.
In a nutshell, collaboration is only result-oriented, short-term and benefits above all to individuals.
Cooperation enhances co-responsibility, creates value for the whole group and enables people to attain mutual performance. Nevertheless both are complementary and can be used in the same company. You just have to ask yourself what result you would like to achieve in the end and over what time period.