Collaboration as a form of working together

Cooperation aims to create or maintain value. But there are different forms of cooperation. Today’s contribution by Ralf Hasford and Carsten Lexa therefore deals with the special features of the second “stage” of cooperation: collaboration.

The joint competence-related development is the focus of the cooperation, in particular the joint use of competences for development, production or project implementation. The initiator of a collaboration leads the cooperation and will in most cases claim the result for themselves. The initiation is much easier and quicker to complete in relation to cooperation or teamwork.

The typical collaboration

The common use of competencies for development, production or project implementation is characteristic of the collaboration. The core is the joint, solution-oriented development and implementation of a work task involving others who work outside of their own time and resource planning.

The people involved act outside of the initiator of the task’s own social, professional and personal area of ​​responsibility. Even if these collaborative forms continue to appear in cooperation and teamwork, they are clearly overshadowed there by other deeper properties.

dialogue as a basis

In contrast to the marketplace as a form of cooperation, in the case of collaboration, the implementation is not assigned as an order. Also, there is no need for a legally binding agreement on common values, goals and obligations, as is the case with cooperation.

Rather, it is about the competence, the ability and the willingness to work together. Collaboration makes it possible to temporarily compensate for a team’s lack of professional competence through collaborative work or to bridge the time of a replacement.

In particular, the distributed provision of highly complex work can be very successful in this way. In order to permanently bind core competencies for a company, this form is only partially or not at all suitable.

Clear task and resource allocation

In order to successfully implement collaboration, clarity in the task and in the exchange of information and data are crucial. A digital platform forms the “linchpin” of communication and data exchange and is the carrier of all information, coordination and ultimately all documents. All other sources of information and filing locations should disappear from everyday work to avoid confusion.

Collaboration: What is collaboration good for?

Meet one-time or short-term needs +
Provision of standard material / services / partial products
Manufacturing parts / implementation of sub-projects +
Joint development project / product / component +
Joint development idea / part / sub-project +
Securing / further development of ideal values ​​or monetary values
Scaling – Oversized Order / New Market (To Order)
Durable Production / Performance (Processes)
Develop management function / company

Basic attitude among external and internal participants

A form of cooperation that is so strongly geared towards community and delivery of results also requires the right attitude. A sense of purpose, openness, trust and loyalty of all those involved in fulfilling the order are prerequisites. It’s no longer just about placing an order or requesting a service.

The joint, solution-oriented development up to the implementation to achieve the goals means disclosing the goals for the initiator and bringing highly specialized knowledge or skills to the contractor. Collaboration can not only take place between individuals or companies, but also between teams of the same organization.

In the collaborative work between teams, the affiliation with the HR manager will recede into the background and the fulfillment of the project will become the actual determining task. The people involved in the teams must coordinate well with each other and exchange information in order to work together on a solution.

Equally important is a clear and binding agreement between the managers responsible for human resources. This is where the greatest danger for the success of collaborative work in companies lies: Uncertainty about the need and leasing of the employees.

Cooperation in young companies (Part 1)

Characteristic of collaborative leadership

Another important facet of collaboration is collaborative leadership. The focus is on competence-related development. The manager acts as a mentor and moderator and supports the cooperation between the people or teams involved. Successful collaborative leadership is built on trust, openness and clear communication.

Evaluation of the selection criteria for the individual forms of cooperation

Which references of the provider determine the cooperation? Presentation of references, competencies, work samples serve to build trust
What characterizes the order, decision and reporting path? Use of a collaboration platform for communication and documentation
Contractual changes are possible throughout the entire order period
Where are the objectives for order fulfillment recorded? Targets set by client (initiator) – confirmation by contractor
What freedoms for independent action are there? Contractors are subordinate to the fulfillment of the contract
Is it the quickest solution? Good chance of a quick and tailor-made solution
Is it the best possible solution? High standard, high flexibility
Is it the cheapest solution? Costs are only incurred when required – no further obligations
Emerge highly qualified
products / services?
The focus is on gaining the required skills
Is a wide range of alternatives possible? Development spectrum depends on the competencies of the contractor
Is price important? In most cases it is an important criterion
Is there a permanent bond with the client / the company? Order-related binding only
Is it necessary for the contractor to “sense” hidden needs or is it an argument? Yes, contractors must adapt / anticipate their further development to the needs of the client
Can renegotiations take place in the event of unforeseeable changes / corrections to deadlines, quality or quantities? Very likely – unless already negotiated
… is fulfilled by third parties. Only if provided for in the contract
Deadline / time frame Spontaneous changes can often be implemented
quantity Spontaneous changes can often be implemented
quality (repeatability) Conditionally reliable – there are also ‘black sheep’ here
What is the monetary value of the collaboration? The higher the value, the more risky the collaboration
What monetary share of the proceeds does the cooperation have? The higher the value, the more risky the collaboration
How high can the level of difficulty in providing the service be? Controllable, the conscious outsourcing is wanted
Particularly effective for projects. Not suitable for process-oriented work
resource availability Only within the framework of the agreement – ​​mostly flexible
Amount of costs for service vs. final price or profit External / development costs up to a maximum of 50% of the expected profit; Ownership and usage rights usually go to clients
Individual service in relation to the annual volume of the provider Up to approx. 1/3 of the annual volume; there must be no hidden ’employee relationship’ / dependency!
demand for availability
(e.g. by end customers)
regulate contractually
Location provider / end customer regulate contractually; often very flexible
Dominant culture in the industry Demand and supply dependent
Use and Ownership Rights Usually passed on to the client – is to be contractually agreed at the beginning
Mention, media participation or reporting on the end product / service provision Contract exploitation rights in advance

Conclusion: collaboration as a form of cooperation

Overall, collaboration offers a promising way to quickly solve complex tasks while quickly combining the expertise of the people and teams involved. Since it is limited in time, there are no social dependencies or obligations.

The ownership structure of the results is clarified right from the start. In principle, these lie with the initiator of the cooperation; however, another assignment is possible. However, successful collaborative work requires clear communication, trust and openness. Increased efficiency is achieved through the use of collaborative software for communication and documentation.

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