Why do we collaborate?

By Art Schlussel posted 08-12-2010 18:23


Why do we collaborate? A simple question, but can you answer it? I asked around the office and I got some interesting answers. Here's a sampling:

  • I collaborate to get buy-in
  • I collaborate to get answers
  • I collaborate to get acceptance of my ideas
  • I collaborate to give others the benefit of experience and intellect
  • I collaborate because it is mandatory
  • I collaborate because that's what everyone else is doing
  • I don't know why
  • I don't collaborate

Maybe you know why you collaborate, maybe you don't, but here is why I believe we collaborate - to create new knowledge. That's it plain and simple. Whether we are collaborating face to face, on a conference call, or in a community of practice discussion thread, the additive input from others adds to the knowledge we have and we create new knowledge. It may simply be a new perspective or one of those powerful light bulb moments where genius is created, but new knowledge is created in the process.

Why is this important? Because every now and then I have to defend the "cost of collaboration." That includes the cost of collaboration tools, the cost of administration and maintenance, the cost of the time people spend collaborating when they should be working, etc. I have found that the "new knowledge" answer, backed up by real examples makes a powerful argument. It's also good when your conversation turns into collaboration about collaboration, and your point is made. 

Try it yourself. Ask your colleagues why they collaborate. Perhaps they already know the answer, but perhaps you will be surprised (and maybe amused) by their response.

#knowledgetransfer #Collaboration #knowledgemanagement #KM