Government wants to work smarter with citizens and deliver high quality end-user services that provide transparency to the end user through omni-channel and cross-organisational working.
A key word to aid this, is ‘collaboration’:
- Collaboration between service providers and users (through user research, user testing, product increments, etc)
- Collaboration between organisations (sharing of data, joint decisions on process development, sharing human and technical resources)
Or at least that’s what we think it means. Considering the two main definitions perhaps we can understand why there is confusion on what collaboration actually means:
1. work jointly on an activity or project
2. cooperate traitorously with an enemy
Working on cross organisation projects to improve the sharing of information I’ve seen issues with this in practice. Collaboration should be 1, but sometimes appears more as 2. Why is this?
In my experience people are willing to ‘work jointly’ as long as their own organisation’s agenda isn’t put at risk. Consider from my previous blog post ‘Lead by listening’ when I suggested that it’s “important not to be too protective of your domain. If a decision elsewhere could greatly affect your area of the business, but is better for the positive growth of the organisation, then perhaps embracing the change is the better option?”
Surely this must be true for effective cross-organisation collaboration. What I see in reality is programmes of work that stall with the realisation that one organisation’s vision or current way of working may suffer distruption even if it’s for the common, overall good. Often we arrive at this junction where one organisation must invest for another to save.
perhaps we need to re-define what collaboration means.
Perhaps we need to include empathy in how we collaborate. By stepping into the shoes of our partner organisations and seeing how proposed changes affect them directly could help us understand how to genuinely work together to make the positive change we seek. If we can’t manage this then we’ll find we need to re-invent the definition of collaborate:
Collaberate : verb. (collaborate merged with berate) – being happy to work together, right up until the point you feel your domain is threatened by those you were collaborating with, and then turning on them.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.