Cooperation vs Collaboration

Looking to migrate from your current platform and go Google? Well if you’ve done any kind of research into Google for Work, you’ll know that collaboration is one of their most prized features. However when you’re looking from the outside in, this can just sound like a buzzword, lacking any real relevance to what you’re doing.

A lot of people feel this when they don’t yet fully understand the concept, confusing cooperation for collaboration. This is something a recent article from the Harvard Business Review discussed in depth, author Ron Ashkenas offering this illuminating example…

‘A large insurance company developed a new suite of products to meet unique customer needs. But as the products were rolled out, it became clear that the product development and marketing teams had not worked closely enough with the IT and customer service teams that were supposed to support these products. These teams knew about the general product development strategy, but they were not included in the detailed planning and roll out decisions, so they were left scrambling to catch up by the time the products were launched. As a result, customers experienced delays and errors in processing, the call centers were unprepared for question.’

What this user case goes to illustrate is that while teams believe they’re collaborating, they are in fact just working on the same project without any real time dialogue between departments. This is a classic case of confusing cooperation for collaboration where teams are ‘friendly, and willing to share information’ however the end goal is lost in bureaucracy and tasks being passed down the line.

What’s essential in any working environment is the ability to discuss projects, share ideas and convene in real time.  With this the common goal needs to be firmly in sight with every member of the team recognizing their place in the final outcome.

For the full article, see here. We think it’s a great example of what Google for Work can do for your organization.

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