In a previous blog (Collaboration – Not the Vichy Variety) I provided an overview of the Association for Information and Image Management’s (AIIM) definition and model of collaboration. I like the definition as it focuses on people and business objectives rather than technology. The definition, with my annotations, is as follows:
Collaboration is Directed: whether an organization likes it or not, people will collaborate because human contact is a need of all of us. For organizations, the important point is to direct that need toward, a ‘working practice’.
Collaboration Involves People: collaboration amongst machines (computer, mechanical or otherwise) is straightforward. Establish a channel of communication; create standardized messages: deal with any noise along the communication channel; receive and verify the message; act per the instructions, lather, rinse and repeat (for more on this, see my blog post: Drums, Writing, Babbage and Information). Humans are not so simple. We have complex and extremely rich methods of communications, we form tribal-like social bonds which may affect that communication and we tend to have our own agendas.
Requires Effort: Collaboration is work, good collaboration is a lot of work. Like anything of value, an effective collaborative model requires effort, resources and organizational support.
Has a Business Reason/Need: Organizations have three very good value propositions to encourage collaboration. The first is it reduces the transaction cost for the business process being collaborated upon. The second is that it can lead to innovation within and outside of that business process. The third is it encourages the social bonds amongst staff which in turn (hopefully) improves staff productivity, loyalty and interest for the work at hand. These immediate and less tangible results are the pay back to the organization for nurturing a collaborative culture.
I like the AIIM definition but for further consider, the following are some other potential definitions for organizations to consider and adopt as their own.
AIIM Definition: http://www.aiim.org/What-is-Collaboration
What is a collaborative organization: http://p2pfoundation.net/Collaborative_Organization