It's Not Business As Usual: Collaboration v Co-operation

SBA office collaboration

Is business in trouble? Look at what is happening to our high streets, the demise in brands and companies we have long known and loved, changes in business performance, mergers and acquisitions, new entrants into the market of many sectors, unemployment at an all-time low and changes in consumer demand.

That is a heady mix for any business lead to get their head around and deal with to keep a business going and navigate through to stay alive and grow. What’s the answer? I think it lies in real collaboration and working together rather than competing.

Let’s collaborate!

Collaborate – a word that's banded about a lot these days. We are expected to be collaborative, to work collaboratively, and to foster a collaborative culture. Some of us think we are doing it, or at least that we should be. Some of us think we don't need to or it's not worth doing. Some may have tried it before and think it didn't work out. But a lot of us don't really know what it is, what's it's for, or how to do it well.

So it is clear that we do not all see it the same way when it comes to collaboration.  Collaboration needs defining in plain English and fully understanding before we can move forward and become effective collaborators.

Defining it: Collaborate – from the Latin col- 'together' and laborare 'to work', 'collaboration' is a process or way of working between two or more people in a dynamic way.

It’s about knowing and appreciating that: 

  • ·Collaborators have committed to working together to achieve a shared outcome, but each will usually have other priorities and responsibilities that do not align as well. 
  • ·An entire project might be a collaboration, or specific tasks might be achieved in a collaborative way.
  • ·Working in a collaborative way means that there is no ‘leader’ – differences need to be resolved collectively.
  • ·The responsibilities of each collaborator do not have to be equal and are usually quite unequal and that is okay.
  • ·Collaboration can develop from, or transition into, other ways of achieving outcomes.
  • ·Successful collaboration requires emotional engagement, mutual respect and encouraged negotiation.

It is also good to recognise and appreciate that collaboration is not the same as co-operation which are needed in partnerships and teamwork.

A partnership, which generally describes a legal or contractual relationship between two or more parties each with deemed rights and responsibilities. It needs co-operation and defined functions.

Cooperation and collaboration

Working together

Teams need to work closely together to achieve shared outcomes and teams need someone with authority to resolve disputes, ensure coordinated action and change the team dynamic if necessary. Again, co-operation and defined roles are required.

The best way of understanding the difference between cooperation and collaboration is to use ideas generation as the example - when you cooperate, you share ideas in a group, when you collaborate you generate ideas as a group.

So, if you want to find the best creative outcome for an issue by working with a widest group of contributors by using an open and inclusive process, then collaboration is they key

Come on business wake up smell the coffee and cooperate so we can collaborate, there is much to do out there and we would be better doing it together for the good of us all. Why not get in touch and see how we can collaborate and achieve real success with your business.

Posted on March 2nd 2022

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