Strategies & Tactics

Collaborating Vs. Cooperating: To Achieve Results, Integrate People and Technology

June 27, 2018

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Technology transfers everything from money to ideas around the world. It uses data to engage employees and customers and increase revenue. So why are too few of us realizing technology’s benefits for true collaboration? One reason is that we’re mistaking cooperation for collaboration.

As Ron Ashkenas writes in an April 2015 Harvard Business Review article, there’s a difference between cooperation — a willingness to get together and share information — and collaboration. The latter requires combining the skills and resources of different departments, and constant, clear communication.

Ashkenas points out that many executives who have undergone training for teamwork and collaboration assume that by staying friendly and sharing information, they’re collaborating — when in fact they’re just cooperating.

He tells of an insurance company that informed stakeholders about an upcoming product launch but never specified how its information technology and customer-service departments would need to support it. As those departments scrambled to develop training and processes to make the launch viable, delays and costs mounted.

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