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5/10/2009
02:31 PM
Oliver Marks
Oliver Marks
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Morten T Hansen • INSAID, Author 'Collaboration' Book

Morten Hansen has spent 15 years researching collaboration, starting in academia when doing a phd at Stanford, studying international business unit efficiencies at Hewlett Packard before moving on to be a professor at Harvard Business School. Hansen has a substantial body of research materials around many aspects of collaboration which he has now condensed into a book.The central argument in Hansens Book 'Collaboration - How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity and Reap Big Results' is that bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration.Working across organizational values can create tremendous value or destroy it - the hoarding and squabbling endemic in large companies can actually make collaboration more expensive than not attempting it, and 'the more collaboration the better' is simply not true says Hansen.Defining an underlying 'Management Architecture' -the basic building blocks for effective collaboration - is the goal of Hansen's book.In a recent Harvard Business Publishing paper Hansen defines three key areas• Overestimating the return on collaboration• Ignoring Opportunity Costs• Underestimating collaboration costsAs examples of the way people typically overestimate synergies.Collaboration for the sake of it without intelligent structure can be very costly and unfocused. Picking a project with the best returns includes eyeing the 'collaboration costs' - are there frictions in the company with people not seeing eye to eye and hoarding information?Some people just don't want to collaborate - and open enterprise tools aren't going to change this.Hansen discusses the idea of managers practicing 'T' shaped management: results in their own job (the 'I' shaped part of the T) and results by collaborating across the company(the cross bar of the T)."What we need is a new revolution in the Human Resources function: What kind of people do we recruit into the company? They've got to be people who have these attitudes that their job is to do both. who do we reward, how do we evaluate them?We need to have a horizontal evaluation system and a vertical evaluation system.And people who cannot function successfully at both should not be in a company that is trying to be collaborative".Please also see my book review on ZDNet.

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