interdependence collaboration

We are hyper-connected today, and there are real metrics to showcase. Just look at the counts. Whether it is connections in LinkedIn, people in Google+ circles, followers in Twitter, or likes in Facebook, there are numbers to track. Dig below the surface though. Do we find collaboration in those connections?

It is a question I have been thinking about lately. We connect but do we collaborate? Does it matter? Can collaboration be tracked like connections?

Connections and Collaboration: Two by Two

Thinking through connections and collaboration sets itself up well for a two by two matrix review. It is a simple lens to peer through and look for some answers.

Are We Over-Connected and Under-Collaborating?

Let’s dive in and explore each quadrant.

Autonomous: When the number of connections are low along with collaboration, a person is acting, essentially, alone. It is a solo venture. The resources are within the reach of an individual as well as the ability to achieve the necessary results. Achievement can be realized in this mode but it may not happen as broadly or as quickly. One standing and working alone can be less effective than a well-working team.

Mutually Independent: Here, connections are many yet collaboration is low. When this occurs, it may look like a relay race. Batons are passed. Each does their part and then hands it off. An individual does their work and does it well. There is some interaction but individuals are not working together closely. It can be an effective way to get work done; it just may take more time and effort than in some other approaches.

Partner: When we drop over to a low number of connections yet high collaboration, this is a partnership. Two or three people working well together to pursue an initiative or achieve a goal. There are many effective partnerships, especially in niche areas. In smaller markets or defined segments, collaboratively working with a few people can make a difference quickly and effectively. Expanding outside the defined area may be challenging in this mode, as more people will need to be involved to gain greater momentum and a broader reach.

Collaboratively Engaged: When there are a high number of connections and high level of collaboration taking place, much can be accomplished but much needs to be coordinated. To achieve big results and broad reach, more people need to be working well together – collaboratively, interdependently, and fully engaged. Social technologies can support both collaboration and coordination efforts. An added ingredient is clarity – purpose, mission, and responsibilities. Clarity is a must in collaborative working relationships, just as trust is.

Trust Intersects

Through each quadrant, trust plays a key role.

  • Working autonomously requires high self-trust.
  • Working mutually interdependently requires a hearty trust of others to empower their independent work, enabling smooth and confident hand-offs.
  • Working in a partnership requires joined trust in your partner – thoroughly and completely.
  • Working collaboratively requires extraordinary trust to keep speed of pace in achieving milestones and realizing the ultimate mission and goals.

This breakdown is thinking-in-process.

Considering connections and collaboration is interesting in a social world, and we need to keep collaboration front-and-center in order to make a difference in what we are doing. Numbers by themselves don’t mean too much in the end. Collaborative results carry more meaning when done right.

Increasing our focus on collaboration may be more important than focusing on the number of connections made.

What are your thoughts about connections and collaboration? Does one feed off another? How do we prevent over-connectedness and under-collaboration?