Okay, okay, we've all heard there's a new way of life out there: one that involves crossing lines, building bridges across silos, sharing knowledge and information with those outside our fragment of the org. chart. But so what? Do we have time for this nonsense?
I remember when a collaborator was a bad guy: one who had dropped the struggle for freedom and sold his soul to the enemy. Now he's the good guy and rewarded for crossing boundaries. Now it's the American way.
A Cynical View
Collaboration as a concept seems very touchy-feely, very time consuming and hard to find the immediate reward -- it just seems above and beyond the commitments we make to get our own jobs done. Do we get a raise for helping "that other division" meet its targets? Well, that's management's' challenge, but I think we're reasonable in expecting that we'll be recognized and rewarded for doing this collaboration stuff.
In the meantime, I suppose there is a sort of visceral reward that we can give ourselves: collaborating across silos is more interesting and gives our work a wider impact -- I feel bigger and more powerful when my work is bigger and more powerful. I get a real charge out of it. When I've sniffed out a solution in use by that nameless group in St. Louis, I get a charge out of using it.
Perhaps efficiency is its own reward.
Or how about the pain of having your suggestion dropped like a used sweatsock because you didn't take the time to gather support beforehand -- there's a humiliation that collaboration can prevent. Suggestions from a unified group of twelve are just more likely to fly than your own precious and private visions. As painful as it may be to compromise your vision, it's a lot more rewarding to get the job done with the help of others than to be rejected all by yourself. (That's why I collaborate, by the way -- it's the cynic's justification, but it works for me.)
And then there's the candy of getting to know as many interesting and effective people around the Company as you can -- seeking opportunities for collaboration is a lovely excuse for mingling with the best people. These are the folks who give the best parties, tell the best jokes, and have the prettiest children, aren't they? Why work for a big company if you don't get to mix it up with the whole village now and then?
Sickeningly virtuous as it sounds, the real reason to collaborate is found in the person of our customer -- you know, the one who pays the bills. We offer a confusing array of products: we can save the poor guy some steps if we can help him buy it easily and all from us. Cross-sell, up-sell, fight, fight, fight!
Or, if your view of the Company is out the window of the back office, you can participate in this push by looking outside your own silo now and then: What are you doing that our brothers and sisters in other divisions can borrow from you to save a few bucks? Pride takes many forms. Be proud of sharing, rather than standing alone. (I think this is the evolution that takes place between nursery school and kindergarten, but never mind.)
Do we have time for this nonsense? What do you think?
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