(updated to add missing link later on in the post)
Stu has an interesting post on effective collaboration, I think his arrows pointing in the right direction, but I don’t think its the whole story. In Stu’s model we need to have a willing person, a willing team, the right culture (less important) and the right tools. I think these 4 things are key for a short term activity, in my experience pretty much any team can collaborate well given enough management attention and team enthusiasm, even if they just have a shared file system and a whiteboard. But the real trick will collaboration is to sustain it over time and to make it work across all of the activities a person’s involved in, not just the priority project.
For this more sustained and systematic collaboration to take hold I think culture’s more important and I think we need to drill a bit deeper into what motivates people.
In this post I described a way of thinking about the stages a person goes through to be comfortable with collaborating, I’m no psychologist but it seems to fit my observations so far. I stretched the idea further with this post trying to apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the same discussion.
But my best post on the topic is probably this one where I took a similar approach to Stu, but looked at the challenges that we face in collaborating and tried to come up with a model to describe them all and their relative importance for different types of collaborative endeavor. I’ve read whole books that attempt to address the topic of this post so its pretty simplistic, but it’s nice when such a big topic can be reduced to a diagram as simple as this one.