Ever since Adam Smith presented the world with his Division of Labor theory, we have become a society of increasingly specialised workers. Our specialised working world mean that a command and control style of management is less effective than an organic and collaborative approach to value creation. In fact collaboration is increasingly cited as a key driver of innovation, creativity and value creation. Clarifying the different between communication or cooperation, collaboration is the process of interaction where the result of the contributing parties is greater than could have otherwise been achieved individually.

Collaboration typically takes one of three forms:

a) Formal: Which are typically prescheduled meetings and are increasingly facilitated by technology;
b) Casual: These are spontaneous or “accidental” interactions that randomly occur in person;
c) Diffusion: This lesser understood knowledge transfer is that which occurs in the open workspace by overhearing other communications such as phone conversation or casual conversation.

It is flawed logic to assume that we know exactly whom to collaborate with when we are working through a process or project.  Therefore it is unreasonable to assume that collaboration can only occur in formal or casual circumstances. Like the diffusion process, those with a shared interest in the conversation will naturally share and absorb a proportion of the knowledge/information being shared.

Our opinion is that formal collaboration is most easily and frequently replaced by technology (though with lesser quality results), and diffusion is the least recognized but with the most potential.



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