Communication

'Collaboration' is too good a word to waste

I have just been reading the recent Home Affairs Committee report: New Landscape of Policing. There is an interesting chapter on Collaboration and in particular I was struck by the use of the word collaboration itself.

In this report, as in many others from Government I've come across lately, collaboration is being used mainly in the context of departments sharing services to save money. Maybe I'm being a bit of a silly old word-sausage here; but, for me, collaboration is special. It's about working together to create something new. Collaboration is generative. I'd offer that the sort of working together to share services is - Cooperation - which is rather more transactional and (here, probably, is the rub) less snazzy-sounding.

Mark Elliott - Framework for Mass Collaboration
Mark Elliott - Framework for Mass Collaboration

I really like this model of collective activity by Mark Elliot of Collabforge (you'll need to click the image to read it properly)....

It offers three words - Coordination, Cooperation and Collaboration - with distinct definitions - take a look at the diagram: it explains itself.

Crucially, I believe that genuine transformation in government services, and the long-term money-saving we desperately need, will spring more from generative collaboration than from cooperation or simple coordination.  I think it will help if we have language that will let us readily distinguish these concepts.

So let's all use Mark's model.