I am not invested in conceptual collaboration as much as I am not invested in conceptual leadership, because in both we are given a set definition that we can either agree or disagree, and such definition does not serve to make us personally that much more collaborative or even improve our own leadership practice. It does make us better at citing a model of collaboration or look backwards into some guru's view of collaboration and leadership, and be content with gurudom or more to the point seek to kneel at this alter with maybe a secret aspiration to become the next social media guru. I get it, we have a book circuit and that is how the profits are made for the few on the top.
There is good thinking in the world of people who think about collaboration and then there are platitudes. How can a single author who writes about collaboration actually serve to teach people like me "collaboration"? For a start, it is a single author and the best way to know what collaboration is collaboration - so the author is the bibliography a.k.a. so many names that it should look like a war memorial, except the names on a collaborative wall are living people contributing and advancing together. How cost effective is to have people at the top of a pyramid rather than learning?
Another pitfall of conceptual collaboration is how it can become platitudes of some "masters" voice. Platitudes are easy to promote and resend out into the world. If quotes on collaboration and leadership really could have made a difference in the world, surely we would have seen that much faster than we saw the rise of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and BeBee. Yet when I look at the content of books about collaboration, they are often marketers sitting on the alter of their personal brand, preaching to the world how we as collaborative people need to find people like our newly minted personas. Would you like some more influencers with your tea?
The focus of these books is on who is not collaborative or in leadership books, who practices poor leadership. Such books are not about innovative collaboration, they are tying words like collaboration as short-term thinkers tie words like personal brand to the chorus of Success Meisters. Where farmers in ancient times developed superstitions about volcanoes and then offered human beings in ritual sacrifice, modern day corporate witchcraft have superstitions about success and offer human beings leadership books and books about collaboration.
This is often preached in the tone of a parent talking to a child. The deference, the sycophantic behaviour, the group-think etc etc are all indicative of our tribal past. Conceptual views of collaboration and leadership can be very detailed, but through personal brand, they mint money for either quick buck artists or self-fulfilling success preaching corporate prophets. Instead of moving from the present to the future with presence, we sit as hostages of someone's promotion.
For the 21st Century we really do have to come out of the cave. That darkness is in not putting on our own thinking caps but doff the caps of influencers and marketers of conceptual this and conceptual that. Innovative collaboration is a constant exploration of what works and focusing on more of what works, and even rethinking why something did not work, because perhaps there is a blindspot that is an actual spot for insight.
Sometimes people share some really interesting thoughts on collaboration, as did Mark Horton in 2011 when he shared Socialcast's infographic http://blog.socialcast.com/e2sday-dare-to-share-a-new-culture-of-collaboration-in-the-enterprise/
For ease of access I have added it below, because it is the kind of thinking that shows me that Socialcast (a VMWare Company) are engaged in innovative collaboration. They are asking the right questions about collaboration and not simply sitting on a soapbox and branding it as the next best thing since the invention of sliced bread :
Socialcast even dare to suggest that there are mistakes in collaboration, for surely they could have written more pithy remarks and in a way they did with the Charles Darwin quote. The image below comes into much sharper focus here, it appears small at first, but clicking again brings it view:
What the graphic below misses out and even the social media guru provides simplistic quotes about collaboration do even more, is stress the importance of a holistic or whole view of collaboration. That is because we are generally not taught to optimize the whole but optimize the parts. We seek collaboration based on the tribal view of success and we end up creating even more failure out of collaborative efforts than simply the mistakes outlined in the infographic below.
At least with this share from Mark Horton, what I refer to as 21st Century thinking is in evidence and to think this group came up with this inforgraphic in 2011. That means they have a seven year head start on us who maybe reading this infographic for the first time. Seven years is several lifetimes now in the modern flow of disruptive innovation and so it is worth me noting that even with this infographic that
1. I am looking at a snapshot about collobration invented in the past
2. The authors and references used to create this infographic also exist from thinking that is even older
3. That I did not think this or create this, but am simply echoing what Socialcast thought at the time
4. To be collaborative does require expertise and knowledge but it also needs exploration and improvising as per Darwin
5. It uses Orange hexagons - if that is not serendipity with beBee, I don't know what is - innovative collaboration :-)