Charles Green has a great piece on collaboration and why we don't. Why It's So Hard To Collaborate
I don’t really think it’s just me. In the face of astonishingly obvious economic benefits, and a fairly obvious set of “how-to’s,” I think the main reason we don’t collaborate is simple. Simple fear.
There are two simple approaches to lowering fear. One is to mitigate risk. The other is to stop being so fearful. The first one is getting most of the press; we need more of the second.
Is it fear that prevents people from collaborating? I might see that link in the claim that "if the boss doesn't do it, then we won't" - fear of upsetting the cart or not following the leader. Charles gives the example of wanting to maintain credit - a particular problem in a world that places so much emphasis on individual achievement. I don't suffer from this kind of fear, do I?
If I don't do something, even though I understand the claimed benefits, then I either don't know how to do it, or I have an underlying concern that isn't addressed by the wondrous benefits. A fear. Overcoming that fear takes some effort / willingness on my part. But it also if there is acknowledgment of the concerns / fears - and mechanisms in place to reduce the likelihood of the fear scenario.
But then thinking about this some more. I wonder. I know what it is, but Do I how to collaborate? I think of myself as a fairly open person when it comes to being asked for help - whether that is to answer a specific question or to devise a solution together. And I'll take the lead if it's a topic I care about. But is that collaboration? Do I really know what collaboration is for me?
[Photo: "fear itself" by darkmatter]