IT Governance

Overcome the Barriers of Mt. Collaboration

Effective collaboration is the Matterhorn of many organizations, but while some collaborative failures make headlines, most linger silently as cash and productivity drain. Phillipa Hale, Director of Open Limits Ltd, shares some common barriers to that seemingly insurmountable summit of good collaboration in an article for The ITSM Review.

The Complexities of Collaboration

Whether it is IT, legal, finance, sales, HR, or marketing, collaboration is crucial to the survival of the enterprise. But while working with another person or a group of people to achieve a desired goal seems relatively straightforward, in many cases it is not. There are psychological / social mechanisms designed to keep people from working outside of their comfort zones. There are collaborative tendencies as well, but these must be cultivated and are not the “default” for many individuals.

The Benefits of Collaboration

When collaboration is achieved, it can be very rewarding for those involved. Their work may become more interesting and they may learn new things about their coworkers or feel a sense of recognition that would otherwise be missing had they flown solo. So, how do we work to reach this challenging summit? One barrier that inhibits effective communication is (ironically) email.

Email, come to think of it, is a very limited form of conversation. Even a message that is carefully crafted by someone with a strong vocabulary may make the wrong impression as result of cultural or personal factors. There is no way to judge what the other is thinking, to respond to their facial and bodily cues, to pick up emotion in their tone of voice. The best course of action is to use neutral language (as in Lean methodology) and to take responsibility for creating solutions instead of ‘waiting’ for someone else to pick up the ball.

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