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11/17/2005
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Not Just For Dinner Conversation Anymore

Sometimes when I get stuck, I turn to one of my favorite online resources, Wikipedia. This time, the topic was the nature of collaboration – not just the online technologies, but the concept itself.

This is a quote from their section on “Collaboration”:

Barriers To Collaboration

One opinion is that whilst collaboration is natural in some societies, and is generally natural in pre-existing teams, collaboration is unnatural in new groups and western society. Some of the perceived barriers to collaboration are:

  • "stranger danger"; which can be expressed as a reluctance to share with others unknown to you
  • "needle in a haystack"; people believe that others may have already solved your problem but how do you find them
  • "hoarding"; where people do not want to share knowledge because they see hoarding as a source of power
  • "not invented here"; self explanatory

Whilst much of the discussion around the topic of collaboration refers to the use of IT, perhaps more research is required on how to provide an effective social process that will help overcome the barriers.

Ironically, I had the opportunity to edit that section since the word “perceived” was misspelled “percieved.” Therefore, I participated in the collaborative effort that is the Wikipedia.

If you do visit the page, scroll down to the portion that talks about collaboration versus coordination and cooperation. Along with providing an interesting topic for dinner conversation among intellectuals, this can be used in discussions to find out exactly what clients really need. For example, do groups need to co-create a new product, or do they simply need to manage their document flow?

If you’re really interested in the nature of collaboration, and have the time and drive to participate in a much larger collaborative project on the nature of collaboration, visit MetaCollab. MetaCollab is a project spawned from Wikipedia that uses the collective experience of its participants to formulate a collaboration encyclopedia. It’s a bit thin at the moment, but I may invest some time to change that.

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