One of the major findings in mankind’s history is realizing the value of working together. Without it we would have starved to death about 100 000 years ago because a single man going hunting is very inefficient (I know – I am a hunter). We have also seen a very strong correlation between the amount of innovations happening and the number of people who are interconnected in the society. Of course, this is also valid for MNCs and SMEs. It IS really essential to cooperate to be successful ….or actually to collaborate to be successful … or ….what do we mean. What is the difference?
Let us first look at what Wikipedia tells us:
Cooperation: “The process of working or acting together, which can be accomplished by both intentional and non-intentional agents. In its simplest form it involves things working in harmony, side by side, while in its more complicated forms, it can involve something as complex as the inner workings of a human being or even the social patterns of a nation. It is the alternative to working separately in competition.
Collaboration: “A recursive process where two or more people or entities work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective) – for example, an intellectual endeavour that is creative in nature – by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.”
It seems that Cooperation is an efficiency measure for two persons or entities to work together in a specific situation (the grey round area) in order to save resources, but they usually have 2 different goals to achieve (fig 1). That is why we also have the expression “Coopetition” where two competing entities can work together, cooperate, because they both prosper on sharing of some their resources. In fig 1 we see the dotted line encircle the area where the entities can save resources/energy to achieve its respective goal, but the goals A and B are separate. The cooperation area as seen in fig 2 is a temporary situation that is dissolved when goals A and B are achieved.
In Collaboration though, each of the entities put in resources that are needed in order to achieve a common goal (fig 3). This is an effectiveness measure, that could also mean increased efficiency.
To collaborate in a good way, you really have to be committed to the shared goal and not only participating to achieve it. The story tells us that when you make egg and bacon for instance, the hen is only participating …but the pig is really committed 😊 ….ooouch!
The best way we can come forward is to collaborate. Only to cooperate in some areas is usually not good enough. When we collaborate, we also have to be really committed to reach the shared goal.Bengt Järrehult