Let’s begin with a question. Are you experiencing barriers to working collaboratively, even though you know collaboration is necessary? If you answered yes, this article is for you.
We all know that contemporary work requires collaboration. In our fast-paced, knowledge-intensive workplaces, success requires people to integrate and leverage their efforts. However, knowing that collaboration is essential and being able to foster collaboration, are two different things. Indeed, collaborative failures are commonplace.
As an academic and practitioner, the question I hold is: how can we design organizations to foster necessary collaborative work? Two core assumptions are inherent in my question. The first is that organizations must understand their collaborative work needs. In other words, to support purposeful collaboration, leaders must first step back and reflect on the basic question: what work will benefit from a collaborative effort? While seemingly simple, this question requires leaders to rethink the very nature of how work is framed, assigned and distributed. A second core assumption is that collaborative work cannot simply be overlaid on top of traditional contexts. Rather, collaborative efforts require a system of norms, relationships, processes, technologies, spaces, and structures that are quite different from the ways organizations have worked in the past.
Below, I share the learnings I am acquiring through my research and practice around how collaboration is changing, and the ecosystem of supports that enable it.