Why Collaboration And Group Working Fails

  • The benefits are not clear to all parties – the people involved will want to be clear about the benefits of the collaboration and why the additional effort and work is going to be worth it. As mentioned above through the vision, mission and goals for the collaboration the benefits to all those involved need to be clear and communicated. Should any of the parties to the collaboration start to consider that the benefits are not clear or do not appear to outweigh the effort or risks, motivation and engagement will potentially be affected.
  • Previous competition or friction – if there has been previous history of competition or friction between potential collaborative parties this will need to be addressed early on in the process. Of course the context and seriousness of the situation could well play a part but bringing together teams or organisations where animosity already exists is going to put up an immediate barrier to effective collaboration and to give the new venture any hope of success should not be ignored.
  • Accountabilities and responsibilities are unevenly allocated – should there be any sense that the allocation of tasks lacks balance or is unclear between the parties, barriers may form and any trust eroded. Should one party start to sense the other ‘is not pulling their weight’ this barrier will affect the functioning of the collaboration.
  • Lack of progress – in order to show that the collaboration is working and progressing towards its objectives, information about the successes will need to be communicated to those that need to know. If people sense the collaboration is stalling, not working, out of control, unfair, or not achieving its objectives questions will be asked. Setting milestones as part of the project plan and communicating progress are key in avoiding perception about lack of progress becoming a barrier.
  • Lack of or poor planning – confidence in the collaboration will be eroded if there appears to be a lack of a plan, a plan that is not working or ineffective processes that govern the planning and work being done.
  • Critical information not shared – where data has to be shared there is clearly a potential for people to resist sharing it or for the systems that hold the data from the different organisations being incompatible in some way. Basic or complex technical difficulties that are disrupting the work and frustrating the people trying to do it, will create barriers to effective collaboration if not addressed quickly. Anticipating and working on potential technical challenges from the start is clearly highly important.
  • Organisational cultural barriers – different organisations have different cultures through which they operate and see the world. Organisations in the same sector or industries can, despite offering similar or the same products and services, have incredibly different cultures from one to the other. It is likely that different cultures will be in force between organisations but additionally in the same organisation there can be sub-cultures that exist between different teams, departments or divisions.
  • Different people and personality clashes – the vision, mission and goals for the collaboration need to be properly communicated and repeated often to the right key people so that they understand the part they need to play. However, there may still be people who will not work together, and may actively resist and find ways to obstruct the collaboration. People may do this even if the benefits of the collaboration are obvious.

Good Luck!

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