Collaboration is one of those terms that always sounds good, but covers a wide range of possible behaviours. Here are 4 of those behaviours.
I believe you can define four levels of collaboration, based on what the collaborating parties offer each other.
Sharing documents and artefacts
The first and most basic level is where collaboration involves using the work products of other parties. These work products could be in a shared library for example, and "the others" have no involvement apart from creating the work products in the first place. They may not even know their work products have been reused. This collaboration is so basic, you might argue that it's hardly collaboration at all.
Sharing ideas and opinions
The second level is where the you need to access opinion from others. The opinion collection might be in the form of a survey, or open-ended feedback, or crowdsourcing vian an online ideas jam or brain storming session. Once the others have provided their opinions, ideas or feedback, they have no further involvement in creating the outcome (the new strategy, the new approach, whatever it might be that needed to be informed by those opinions). Although they have an interest in the outcome, and would like to see their opinions acted on, they don't have any further involvement until the outcome is ready.
The third level is where the business needs to access advice, knowledge and experience from others. Collecting this knowledge might happen through a community of practice, or through a peer assist. The others provide advice, provide guidance, are involved in questioning the business unit that originated the collaboration, and have an advisory role in creating the outcome. However the outcome is not primarily for them, it is for the originating business unit. So althrough they are involved in creation, they don't have equal ownership of the outcome.
Sharing work and effort
The fourth level is where the business needs actively to work with people from elsewhere as part of a short lived co-located team, or a longer lived virtual team. It needs the skills and input and judgment and effort from the others, and the outcome is co-created with the others. All parties have equal ownership and equal involvement in the outcome.
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I am a director for Knoco, the international firm of knowledge management consultants, offering a range of knowledge management services, including knowledge management strategy, knowledge management framework development, and knowledge management implementation services.
I also have an interest in Lessons Learned