The Collaboration Conundrum: Pain and Gain

 Why does thinking about collaboration cause so much pain? With all the challenges of the current business environment, why is collaboration the one way of working that doesn’t seem to get quality attention? Is the pain of NOT working together not strong enough to see the potential gains of true collaboration?

Leaders of large businesses face many organisational tensioins that would benefit from collaboration, but too much collaboration can also cause pain.

The pains of ineffective collaboration are:

  • Too many meetings – too slow to act
  • Unproductive meetings – nothing happens
  • Fragmented working – leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities

……The whole is some of the parts.

The gains of effective collaboration are:

  • Efficiencies brought about by sharing
  • Harnessing people power to resolve difficult business problems
  • Ability to deliver short term results and alignment to long term strategy
  • Balancing local and global needs

…. The whole is the sum of the parts and it’s an inspiring / motivating way to work!

Meetings are where most people collaborate in the workplace and where work should get done. Appropriate collaboration is the solution to meetings that don’t work. In our work with clients to improve their meeting cultures, one of the common causes of problems in meetings is misalignment of decision making which leads to inappropriate collaboration. This leads to huge wasted effort in collaborating when decisions are already made or collaborating when something is too far down the line for the collaboration to give benefit. Appropriate collaboration is the key to harnessing the people power in our organisations. Inappropriate collaboration is what gives meetings a bad name!


This chart is an adaptation of Peter Senge's collaboration model with Meeting Magic's experience mapped to his model.

The chart seen here and at the header of this post is an adaptation of Peter Senge’s collaboration model with Meeting Magic’s experience mapped to his model.

Collaboration can be seen as something that happens in a single meeting, but the most effective collaboration happens in a blended way, in meetings and between meetings, face to face and virtual. The full impact of collaboration arises when leaders take on the mantel to bring collaborative ways of working into the core business values. By this we mean values that live, not values posted up and collecting dust.

The pain of the current status of meetings can become the gain of an energized and creative way of getting the most out of people. For leaders in organisations willing to take the initiative and move away from the current time suck of ineffective meetings, the potential gain is not only more time but also a huge range of other benefits that come when people work effectively together.

There is short-term change pain when addressing systemic issues in organisations, but we know from over 15 years experience, that collaboration really works. We have seen it work in FMCG, pharma, high tech, manufacturing, engineering and most business sectors. We have seen it work in the EU, USA and AsiaPac. We know collaboration addresses the tensions in organisations and tackles the pesky number of meetings you are having. Collaboration harnesses people power, and people have the power to transform organisations!

To learn more about how we help you collaborate well contact us or call us on +44 (0)1628 471 114.