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Collaboration as an Intangible Asset

Have you ever heard someone else congratulated for work you did?  This happens more often in the corporate world than many people would care to imagine.  For some, this may lead to frustration.  In reality, what it should lead to is the recognition of the importance of collaboration.  According to an article by Robert J. Thomas on the Harvard Business Review, intangible assets are growing in importance in the business world.  Collaboration, according to Thomas, is a perfect example of such as asset: The point is not to nod in the direction of the “little people,” but instead to recognize that the intangible assets an organization has are the product of the hundreds, perhaps the thousands, of “assists” — to extend the basketball metaphor — that usually go unnoticed but without which problems would not get solved, insights would not be generated, and uncertainties would not be vanquished…Most intangible assets are real but invisible, and the most important invisible ability is the ability (or, perhaps better said, the probability) to collaborate. After all, it's the willingness on the part of people to work together to solve problems when they could just as easily pass them along to someone else that forms the core of most things we call collaboration. It's the decision that someone makes to share an idea or to spend the extra hour helping out — not the regulation or contract that requires it — that usually means the difference between “good enough” and “outstanding.” Having collaboration as an intangible asset does present some issues.  As Thomas notes, if you cannot see something to measure it, it becomes difficult to manage.  Furthermore, forcing collaboration can end up being counterproductive.  Before doing anything else, your organization should check to see how possible and probable collaboration may be as well as when it is appropriate to use. Thomas notes that social networking can be rather beneficial when considering collaboration.  It will allow your employees a venue to meet at whatever time may be convenient.  When you give more opportunities for collaboration, you are more likely to see it benefit your organization as an intangible asset.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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