In two previous blogs (Collaboration – Not the Vichy Variety and AIIM’s Collaboration Definition), I provided an overview to the definition and a lifecycle model of Collaboration. Developed by the American Institute for Image Management (AIIM), in this blog, I want to drill down on the Life-Cycle model. But first a quick re-cap, the definition is…
… and the lifecycle model is an eight stage recursive loop:
|Awareness||We become part of a working entity with a shared purpose|
|Motivation||We drive to gain consensus in problem solving or development|
|Self-synchronization||We decide as individuals when things need to happen|
|Participation||We participate in collaboration and we expect others to participate|
|Mediation||We negotiate and we collaborate together and find a middle point|
|Reciprocity||We share and we expect sharing in return through reciprocity|
|Reflection||We think and we consider alternatives|
|Engagement||We proactively engage rather than wait and see|
Good Principles – Bad Model
While I like the AIIM definition of collaboration, I have a hard time understanding and using the lifecycle model. The circles suggest that one moves sequentially from one state to another. While I would agree that Awareness is a good starting point, is motivation really the next state? Is engagement truly the end-statement; e.g. everyone in an organization proactively being engaged? Does this not also lead to a lot of organizational noise and tripping over each other?
Some of the states are very important, in particular Reciprocity. I would suggest that this is the most misunderstood aspects of human existence let alone collaboration. Without getting too far into social-evolutionary theory or economic transactional-theory (stay tuned for future blogs); altruism in organizations only gets you so far and often not that much. I know this because I have created numerous Microsoft SharePoint sites which now lie abandoned or have long since been deleted and forgotten. In many cases the underlying business need has come and gone. In others I failed to or stopped providing a reciprocal advantage for erstwhile users (… errr, on that note, thank you for reading this blog).
As a model, I think the Life-cycle is found wanting. However, as a set of principles, I think there may be something there. Read the stages again but this time with this principles lead statement such as the following:
We the members of our organization, where we choose to work, seek to create a collaborative culture and an effective organization through the following collaborative principles:
- We [choose to] become part of a working entity with a shared purpose
- We drive to gain consensus in problem solving or development
- We decide as individuals when things need to happen
- We participate in collaboration and we expect others to participate
- We negotiate and we collaborate together and find a middle point
- We share and we expect sharing in return through reciprocity
- We think and we consider alternatives
- We proactively engage rather than wait and see
Thus, I think the AIIM Collaboration Lifecycle can help an organization establish a set of principles to allow for the creation of a collaborative culture. What the lifecycle fails to do though is provide a more robust conceptual framework to build, nurture, evaluate and continuously improve organizational collaboration. To do that, I would like to introduce the ‘3 Ps and a G over T Collaboration Framework’.