Yes, There Actually Can Be Too Much Collaboration

Collaboration is in my DNA. I have always believed that neither I nor whatever organization I am working for or representing can solve the world’s problems alone. To use the old cliché: together we can do so much more! So I was interested in reading Harvard Business Review’s latest article, “Collaboration Overload is a Symptom of a Deeper Organizational Problem.”

The article makes some really great points. I’m not sure if it’s so much about collaboration as it is about management within an organization or company – and setting expectations. The author, Michael Mankins, argues that a complex operating model produces too much collaboration overload. I totally agree. On too many occasions, I’ve seen in-house subject matter experts make a recommendation to the higher-ups, only to have endless conversations that take months. Usually, the leadership agrees with the recommendation – but by that point, so much time has passed that it might not be relevant any longer.

Having worked for and with entities that love to meet for the sake of meeting (which is one of my pet peeves!), I also appreciate Mankins suggestion to create a fixed meeting time bank. Implementing Mankins’ suggestion could liberate countless hours of unproductive time. Just imagine how many other problems we could solve!

Finally, I am Mankins’ biggest cheerleader when he points out, “By requiring that concrete business cases be developed for all initiatives that demand the time of senior leadership, an organization can slow the growth of new initiatives and winnow the existing set of initiatives to those that demonstrate clear benefits in excess of their organizational cost.”

There is a time and place for collaboration in our work lives. Let’s use our time wisely.

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