Designing for Collaboration

Collaboration is emerging as a core organizational competence, and indeed an imperative, in today’s interconnected work context.  Despite the need, collaborative results often fall short of the intended ideals.  A large body of research suggests that while collaboration may be necessary, it is not easy (Bryson, Crosby & Stone, Rhoten, 2003; 2006; Suddaby, Hardy, & Huy, 2011).  Failed collaborative efforts have led academics to point to the many sources of collaborative inertia; organizational elements that act as barriers to collaboration.  What if, instead of attempting to overcome elements of inertia, we shift our efforts to designing holistic systems that enable collaboration?  Below, I argue that collaboration is a design challenge.  To enable more fruitful collaboration in our organizations, we need to design for it.

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