The Anti-Collaboration Bandwagon

David is an experienced project manager, and founder and CEO of Binfire.com, a SaaS project management and collaboration application.

Following a much-debated essay in the Harvard Business Review titled “Collaboration Overload,” the Economist has joined the fray with “The Collaboration Curse,” a biting but more superficial attack on workplace collaboration. As I argued in a blog named “Harvard Business Review is wrong on collaboration,” these pieces rely on academic research to reach some far-fetched conclusions that are not anchored in the reality of corporate America.

I was practicing collaborative project management when Apple's Macintosh was considered the coolest technology on the planet, so I know a couple of things about the topic. Also, as a keen reader of both venerable publications, I am surprised that the articles actually passed what should be a rigorous editorial review process. Although I am firm believer in open debate, I am disappointed that so little of value was added to the body of information about the topic.

Here’s a quick overview of the points in the Economist article about the collaboration “cult” (their word, not mine):

  • There is pressure on the part of management to adopt new collaborative tools.
  • It is considered good corporate practice for employees to “help each other all the time.”
  • Because of open plan offices, people are forced to “share large noisy spaces.”

The …

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