Collaboration readiness: preparing ourselves for a culture of collaboration
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
In a complex a world as ours nowadays, collaboration is essential for generating knowledge, innovation and social balance. Collaboration requires trust and comes from generosity, as without generosity in small doses, collaboration wouldn’t be possible. Examples like Genius Crowds, where you can share new product ideas, or Shareable are illustrates of this change in paradigm.
The book “The Penguin and the Leviathan”, by Havard Law professor Yochai Benkler, gives a simple but exhaustive vision of literature on collaboration and how it is seen through the prism of economics, sociology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology… among other disciplines. It also reflects on how collaboration is the most valuable weapon for the well-being of society. The book describes scientific studies and an endless number of examples, based on the Internet, that reveal that humans are not as inherently selfish and socially retrograded creatures as economists would like us to believe. Examples are shelled out that cover management culture at Toyota and Southwest Airlines, the digital gift economies of GNU / Linux, Wikipedia and CouchSurfing. The “penguin” of the title refers to the Linux logo, the free software OS that Benkler considers to be emblematic of the new cooperation mode. He dubs as “Leviathan”, which according to Wikipedia is a sea monster from the Old Testament, the hierarchical top-down systems where control and coercion are key, as opposed to the age of digital networks and cooperation.
Personally I believe that without a collaborative culture, there is no participation, and hence, there is no single shared vision.
”We need to build a culture of collaboration, not implement a collaboration of different cultures.” In other words, collaboration starts in the mind of the people, not in the inheritance and adaptation of existing business culture.
We also need to be clear that we can’t waste time with traditional metrics. It doesn’t matter how many times a person posts or how many messages they leave in the forum… What matters is how that person participates. So we need a new open, connected and transparent leadership business philosophy. If you want collaboration to occur, you need to have coherent leaders that win trust and respect for doing what they say. For setting the example.
In the changing complex context in labor terms, I ask myself whether collaboration could be another form of independent work to explore, where rewards can be monetary or not, and where ethics takes precedence and power is more transparent.
I want to finish with a quote from Martin Nowak: “Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of evolution is its ability to generate cooperation in a competitive world”. We lack a culture of commons, empathy, solidarity, as well as of social norms of equality and trust. If only we realize the benefits and the psychological/social consequences of collaboration at a social and global scale.