An interesting definition of collaboration comes from the the very first pages of "Managing Collective Intelligence" by Olivier Zara, published in 2004.
I reccomend who is interested in go in deep about collaboration to read this book, free availble in PDF. Here below the definition:
In the intelligent enterprise, it is important to distinguish between collective reflection and collective communication:
- Communication allows for an exchange of information, without there necessarily being any intellectual collaboration.
- Reflection implies intellectual cooperation through which information is created, becomes meaningful, and is applied to existing information, transforming it into new information.
This distinction is important because people often think they are cooperating when in actual fact they are merely communicating. Just about everyone sends and receives information; few are those who engage in the more difficult act of co-constructing it.
I have also collected some other definition of collaboration:
this from Wikipedia:
Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals , by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. [… ] teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources
from other authors:
•“a process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible” – B.Gray, Collaborating: Finding Common Ground for Multiparty Problems, 1989
•“It is a mutually beneficial relationship between two or more parties who work toward commong goals by sharing responsibility, authority and accountability for achieving results” – D.Chrislip, C.Larson, Collaborative Leadership, 1994
When you consider a team and the projects assigned to them, one thing is clear: you cannot avoid to collaborate: it is mandatory for the success of the team.
Results from a single serves to other people to accomplish their targets. In this sense a series of facilities must be provided to team's people to make easiest the collaboration.
Some of them are the classical ones: phone, e-mail, information broadcasting.
Others are not entered in the common practices and requires some extra effort. A forum could be very useful to track discussions, a blog can teach new aspect of a project or the progress of an activity, etc.
Despite the himperious advent of social network, outside the border of the company, what is usually called as Enterprise 2.0 is not yet perceived as an opportunity to increase productivity and their own business potential.
The challenge of my job is to make these tools easier to use and part of the usual suite of eache collegue that works in a collaborative way