by Morten T. Hansen
Harvard Business Press, 2009
“good collaboration amplifies strength, but poor collaboration is worse than no collaboration at all.” (page iv)
Collaboration Traps: How Smart People Get it Wrong (pages 11-14)
- Collaborating in hostile territory – where competition and independence are the culture.
- Over-collaborating — thinking more is always better.
- Over-shooting the potential value – thinking it will produce more than it will.
- Underestimating the costs – how difficult it is to change cultures.
- Misdiagnosing the problem – falsely looking only at surface issues.
- Implementing the wrong solution – caused by #5.
Disciplined Collaboration (pages 14-15)
Defined: Getting people to work together across departments, programs or functions.
Disciplined Collaboration: Three Steps (pages 15-18, 50-63)
Step 1: Evaluate opportunities for collaboration – “Will we gain a great upside by collaborating?”. Collaboration is a means to an end, not the end.
Step 2: Spot barriers to collaboration – “What are the barriers blocking people from collaborating well?”
1) The not-invented-here barrier (people are unwilling to reach out to others)
- Insular culture – Communication mainly inside a group
- Status gap – Don’t want to cross status lines
- Self-reliance – Should fix your own problems
- Fear – Do not want to reveal problems
2) The hoarding barrier (people are unwilling to provide help)
- Competition – Competition with colleagues and units
- Narrow incentives – rewards for own goals
- Too busy – No time to help others
- Fear – Loss of power if sharing knowledge
3) The search barrier (people are not able to find what they are looking for)
- Company size – Big companies face search problems
- Physical distance – Distance makes search difficult
- Information overload – Too much information worsens the search
- Poverty of networks – Lack of links undermines search
4) The transfer barrier (people are not able to work with people they don’t know well)
- Tacit knowledge – Difficult knowledge to transfer
- No common frame – Don’t know how to work together
- Weak ties – No strong relations to ease transfer
All four barriers need to be low before effective collaboration can really take place. Each one is enough to stop people from collaborating well.
Step 3: Tailor solutions to tear down barriers.
Three strategies to tear down barriers:
1) Unification strategy – craft compelling common goals, articulate a strong value of cross-company teamwork, and talk the talk of collaboration to send strong signals that lift people’s sights beyond narrow interests and toward a common goal.
2) People strategy – get the right people to collaborate on the right projects. People who simultaneously focus on the performance of their unit and across boundaries.
3) Network strategy – collaboration runs more through interpersonal networks and less through formal hierarchies.
The best of Two Worlds – Decentralized and Collaboration (page 19)
Barrier Assessment (Page 64)
Solutions to achieving collaboration
1. Unify People – Create a Unifying Goal (pages 74-82)
Criterion 1: The goal must create a common fate
Criterion 2: The goal must be simple and concrete
How President Kennedy went from the main objective of demonstrating U.S. world leadership to landing a man on the moon.
US world leadership
Preeminent in space
Land a man on the moon
Difficult to measure
Criterion 3: The Goal must stir passion
Criterion 4: The goal must put competition on the outside
2. Cultivate two-dimensional leaders (Leaders who deliver results in their own job and deliver results by collaborating across the organization (Pages 95-114)
3. Build Nimble Networks (Pages 117-123)
Collaborative organizations run on networks, those informal working relationships among people that cut across formal lines of reporting.
Six Network Rules (pages 123-136)
Network Rule #1: Build outward, Not inward.
Network Rule #2: Build Diversity, Not size
Network Rule #3: Build weak ties, Not strong ones
Network Rule #4: Use bridges, Not familiar faces
Network Rule #5: Swarm the target, Do Not go it alone
Network Rule #6: Switch to strong ties, Do Not rely on weak ones
 Hansen, M. T. (2009). Collaboration: how leaders avoid the traps, create unity, and reap big results. Boston, MA, Harvard Business Press.