When Collaboration is For the Birds

Collaboration is key.  We’re told by social media mavens that it powers networks and unlocks the potential within individuals and the groups with which they associate.  However, collaboration is not always an unalloyed good. Sometimes it can go badly wrong.

Now, before you throw me out of the social media club, consider the following: collaboration isn’t just about working together; it’s about working together towards a shared goal.   However, sharing a goal is not enough it you are looking to optimize the situation for your group.  Merely accomplishing a shared goal doesn’t guarantee good if the goal itself is flawed.

If you aren’t convinced, watch these two brief videos in which groups of birds act together to achieve a common goal:

Here’s an example of great collaboration to achieve a worthy goal:

Now, here’s an example of a crowd realizing too late that the goal towards which it was working was the wrong goal:

So here’s the takeaway:  If you’re going to go to the trouble of collaborating, make very sure that the goal towards which you are working is worth the effort.  Otherwise, you might discover that your collaboration effort is for the birds.

 

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2 thoughts on “When Collaboration is For the Birds

  • February 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm
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    Good point, Mary! I agree it is about setting goals and being open about them. One thing I find important in groups is to have a group goal, but also to hear from the group members what their personal goals are. Having everyone listen to them helps filter out big contradictions in goals from the start, but also helps each other reach each other’s goals.

  • March 5, 2012 at 12:34 am
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    Thanks, Samuel. The other advantage to your approach is that the initial conversation you recommend can help reveal if there are any assumptions or misunderstandings that might undermine the apparent agreement as to goals. All of this is important to ensure the entire team pulls in the same direction.

    – Mary

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