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 costs
As 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.
Thanks for posting the video with Morten. I liked the notion of “T” management – easy to visualize and hopefully practice on a day to day basis without my extra thought. I agree with the points on picking the right projects to collaborate on, and at times it might make best sense to not collaborate on anything at all!
I tend to focus more on sales collaboration so the concepts of “hording” ring home loud and clear. The idea of rewarding employees and hiring “T” types I also believe will play a more important role in employee hiring as mentioned. Especially in sales – there are times when collaboration is key to winning deals – but it takes the right kind of person, and at the right time to assess the ROI of doing it.
Very thought provoking video. Thanks!
Appreciate if you can correct the mis-spelling of INSAID. It should be “INSEAD”.
Thanks for highlighting this book!
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