What Collaboration Is and Is Not

What Collaboration Is and Is Not


Beyond the interpersonal behaviors of a single team is the need for organizations to work across multiple teams to accomplish their shared mission. Collaboration is defined as the act of working together with one or more teams to achieve a common goal. Yes, it’s similar to team dynamics, which places the success on several individuals working together rather than people working separately. But this time, we’re focusing across teams, departments and organizations to achieve greater success. In the many instances I have worked in the trench to help improve organizations, I see a far greater need to improve collaboration than I see the need to improve the dynamics of individual departments or teams.

Let’s look at what collaboration is and what it isn’t:

Collaboration Is: Collaboration Isn’t:
Communication Silence
Teamwork Separation
Partnership Segregation
Combined Effort Remoteness
Association Loneliness
Alliance Silos
Relationship Seclusion
Commitment Compliance
Recognition Pointing Fingers
Symphony Solo Artist
“What can we do?” “That’s their job!”
“We can…” “You can’t…”
Abundance Scarcity
Win/Win Win/Lose

Ask yourself:

  • What greater results might be achieved if we were to collaborate more?
  • What are some examples in your organization of teams collaborating?
  • What behaviors lend toward collaborating across an organization?
  • How do we recognize and celebrate collaboration across teams?

Identify opportunities to collaborate more across the organization. Discuss what actions would need to occur to make that collaboration a success? Define next steps toward being collaborative.

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