Wednesday 20 November 2013

Why in-house collaboration is so difficult

Collaboration "Why in-house collaboration is so difficult" is the title of a really interesting piece by Andrew Campbell, originally published in the UK Financial Times in 2006.

Andrew looks at various standard reasons for the failure of collaboration, such as Not-Invented-Here, or "new skills in old structures", and instead, based on his own research, that there are several common reasons why Collaboration fails.
  • Synergies may be a mirage
  • Collaboration between departments may confuse the departments' primary purpose
  • Big investments may be needed before synergies are delivered, and the investment may outweigh the value delivered. Opportunity costs are too great.
  • There  may be no mechanism to decide which practices are "best"
  • There may be buried rivalries
  • There may be incompatable IT systems
Andrew's recommendation, which echoes the warnings of Morten Hansen, is simple.
  1. Get very clear on the size of the prize
  2. Find out why collaboration is not happening (an Assessment or culture audit will help here)
  3. Determine whether you have the skill to unblock the problems
  4. Calculate the cost of collaboration (resources, time, distraction, loss of accountability etc).
Like anything else in Knowledge Management, collaboration is not an end in itself - it is only a mechanism to add value.

Work out the value proposition, and maybe in-house collaboration will not be so difficult after all.

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