Today is the 4th of July, the national holiday celebrating the independence of the United States. It is also the culmination of a year-long celebration of Avon Lake, Ohio.  Barb Cagley chaired the Bicentennial Committee (the same last name is significant). With a little luck about the time is blog entry publishes, I will be six or seven hours into helping with the festivities (rain, rain go away), therefore today’s entry will be a bit shorter than normal.

Feedback on Evaluating Collaboration:

I received some excellent feedback on the framework for evaluating whether an activity is a collaboration or something else.  Steven suggested a tweak to the questions: substituting the word outcome for output. My first reaction was that the distinction was a bit esoteric. I had to step back and consider the point before recognizing that as many times before, Mr. Adams was correct. The new question set is:

  1. Is there a common goal? 
  2. Is there interaction to create an outcome?
  3. Is shared ownership of the outcome?
  4. Bi-directional communication?

Why the change?  Outputs are what an organization or process produces, whereas outcomes are the impact or difference that output generates.  To paraphrase Stephen, an output can be interpreted as creating stuff while an outcome is interpreted as creating stuff that has value or makes an impact.  The Harvard Business Review (blog) points out that the distinction between output and outcome is not just semantics for very similar reasons. As we are evaluating activities to determine whether they are truly collaborative, the distinction of whether an activity is delivering value or is not is valid.  The question I have not solved yet is whether an activity can be collaborative if the outcome fails to deliver value or doesn’t make an impact. If we assume that those involved in a failed outcome learn then something is gained. 

Jonas Bull provided a great idea by reframing the question set to evaluate whether an activity is collaborative before it occurs.  We will return to his ideas and comments (made on LinkedIn) later in this theme. His ideas provide a mechanism to evaluate how we intend to act; to be more proactive. I believe this will be a useful capstone for the theme.