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Is my collaboration your collaboration? Let’s talk…

20 February 2013

I was reading a post a moment ago by @Marie_WallaceThe Social Business Struggle. This led me to another post by @hjarcheCollaboration is a Means Not an End. This led me down another path to another great post by @deb_lavoyCollaboration isn’t Working: What we Have Here is a Chasm. My head hurts, but I love this disruptive and serendipitous aspect of the internet. Where I start is not where I will finish. Links undermine, lead me to somewhere I hadn’t intended to go… I let you lead me astray, I know the game.

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In the background I can hear the odd word from a Counting Crow’s song – A Long December, playing on guy1067’s faves! (via lively.fm):

…there’s reason to believe perhaps this year will be better than the last…days go by so fast…

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Technology has changed everything. Paradigms are shifting. New or different lexicons emerging. The ‘old ways’ rubbing uncomfortably against the ‘new’…

We live in a time of cliches, appropriated words and platitudes, perhaps this is part of the journey towards ‘boring technology’. Perhaps we are simply waking up, recognising, believing that something better exists; better because we have more control over it, better because we have the authority to do something about it… in some ways, it’s still about all the old things we’ve always railed against, but it’s just different. We’re using them differently. We’re all using them, we all have access to them (or is that just another assumption). Life is full of unquestioned assumptions.

We use words such as – collaborate, co-operate, authenticity, trust, openness, sharing, transparency, democratisation, empowerment, connected and even hyper-connected… we use these words in juxtaposition to words such as power, command and control, silo, hoarding, authority, hierarchical… one is morphing into the other.

I talk about collaboration, and after reading Collaboration is a Means Not an End, I’m now thinking about co-operation, we can’t have one without the other. I need to think more about it. But I use these words, I have my own definition and interpretation of them. But when I talk with you, my connected friend and follower, I assume that the collaboration and trust and openness and hyper-connectedness that I talk about, is the same one that you are talking about. That when we collaborate, we are working towards the same end, the same shared goal.

But when I get to the end, I realise that I’ve made assumptions, that I’ve never told you my meaning of collaboration. Perhaps there’s a step before assuming collaboration comes before co-operation?

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Thanks to @hjarche for sending me the following link which provides some background to his posts above about collaboration and co-operation – In Networks, Cooperation Trumps Collaboration.

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 February 2013 4:50 pm

    Hello Guy

    Interesting post, I find myself liking you. It occurs to me that you practice humility and thus are willing to explore, rethink, revise, your thinking, your stance.

    I once one is truly free when one has the space to say “NO” and suffer no consequences. Why do I bring this up? Because the very people that are into collaboration in large companies are adamant that everyone in the organisation collaborate. Interestingly, they do not see that in this very act they are not collaborating. No, they are dictating. And there demands for collaboration instil fear in the workplace. What comes from fear? Compliance. And there is huge difference between compliance and collaboration.

    What I find SO interesting is that just about nobody asks the obvious question: why should people in different tribes in the organisation collaborate? Why should people in different layers of the hierarchy collaborate? Why should the guy at the coalface collaborate with the guy in the palace?

    The writer who speaks of co-operation is on to something powerful. And little genuine collaboration will occur until and unless the organisational context changes. As one of the post points out, just about everyone avoids talking about the elephant in the room: the vast imbalance of power where people who do the work are merely human resources. They are not even people!

    For collaboration to occur we have to shift to a You AND Me world. Not the one that exists today in just about every large organisation.

  2. 22 April 2013 11:50 am

    Hi Guy

    I like your note that we havent yet a shared definition for words – collaboration can mean many things to many people – but its still a world we stand near – if not behind – to shape a change and approach to knowledge, improvement, co-operation – what ever…

    Ive been very agitated lately by Stowe Boyd – he is dissing collaboration and promoting co-operation. He is implying collaboration is a forced upon us where as ‘co-operating’ is an intrinsic choice. He’s hijacking a word that is at the centre of my value set.

    I dont like to see collaboration hijacked as command and control thinking – a manifestation through invite, coercion, structured influence… – but until you really define the word through the way you use it and enact it – it is open to abuse, confusion, grey interpretation.

    I really like Stowe – he is a broad thinker and prolific writer. He often wears good hats. But I know that my agitation comes in that he is stretching my own beliefs and assumptions – words are actually pretty dangerous things to congregate around until we know what they mean to others

    “Okey, so what does collaboration look like to you?”

    James

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