Friday 15 January 2016

#BYOD4L Day 4 Collaborating or Cooperating?

Continuing the daily BYOD4L themes, day 4 was collaborating. One definition of collaboration is 'united labour'. Others include 'to work, one with with another', 'work jointly on an activity or project' or 'to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something'. 

The first question raised during the BYOD4L tweetchat led by Neil Withnell and Alex Spiers was:

This got us all thinking and also inspired me to look again at the differentiation between these two words after the tweetchat. I've often seen them used interchangeably, which is understandable as there are overlaps.  

Definitions for cooperation include 'work jointly towards the same end', 'to ​act or ​work together for a ​particular ​purpose, or to be ​helpful by doing what someone ​asks you to do', 'act together or in compliance', 'to associate with another or others for mutual benefit'. An example given in use is 'staff need to cooperate with each other'.

So whilst there are similarities we might consider 
  • to cooperate as the process of working together to the same end
  • to collaborate as working jointly on an activity to produce or create something 

Within the word cooperate we see co and operate, which indicates a process, whereas within collaborate we see co and labor, which indicates working together. Cooperation may therefore be considered as simply splitting up the work and getting it done. Collaboration however is when individuals consider the process and together go on brainstorm how they might achieve a desired outcome. This might be to create something or to collectively share possible solutions to a problem. 

Ashkenas takes this further looking at how collaboration can break down in the work place. 

"Everyone seems to agree that collaboration across functions is critical for major projects and initiatives. The reality, however, is that meshing the skills and resources of different departments, each focused on its own distinct targets, to achieve a larger organizational goal is much easier said than done. In fact, it takes much more than people being willing to get together, share information, and cooperate. It more importantly involves making tough decisions and trade-offs about what and what not to do, in order to adjust workloads across areas with different priorities and bosses. And despite all the well-meaning cooperative behaviors, this is often where interdepartmental collaboration breaks down." (Ashkenas 2015)
The second part of the question was how co-create differs from collaborate and co-operate. Going back to the dictionary it is defined as 'creating jointly'. An article in Technology Innovation Management Review offers this

"Co-creation is a very broad term with a broad range of applications. We define co-creation as any act of collective creativity that is experienced jointly by two or more people. How is co-creation different from collaboration? It is a special case of collaboration where the intent is to create something that is not known in advance. The concept of co-design is directly related to co-creation. By co-design we refer to collective creativity as it is applied across the whole span of a design process. By these definitions, co-design is a specific instance of co-creation." (Sanders and Simons 2009)

Collaborative Tools

Coming back to collaboration, during the tweetchat there were a number of tools shared that can be used for collaborative working. These included:

Further reading 

There’s a Difference Between Cooperation and Collaboration. Ron Ashkenas, Harvard Business Review

A Social Vision for Value Co-creation in Design. Liz Sanders and George Simons, Technology Innovation Management Review

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