What is your company? At it's basic level it's a bunch of people working in some sort of organized fashion to create and capture as much value as possible—cooperating (usually) to achieve some common objective.
But that's part of the problem—cooperation works but only up to a point.
Collaboration is what companies aspire to and what they think they have, but they sabotage themselves with antiquated views and business management practices that give them cooperation when they want collaboration.
Cooperation is a stitched together series of parts and activities that hopes to create a pre-determined outcome. It's a hierarchical division of labor, much like the assembly line thinking it was modeled upon, hoping to achieve a desired objective. Unfortunately this frequently doesn't work out as planned which unleashes havoc and dysfunction in the most well-intended environments.
Collaboration Is Much Better Than Cooperation
Collaboration on the other hand, which is what most companies want, and frequently think they have, is a collective undertaking that produces a shared outcome. People working in unison and creating a truly integrated and mutual outcome. Collaboration can only be accomplished jointly.
Cooperation can take place in isolation on an assigned task that when accomplished, get's added to a bunch of other tasks to hopefully add up to the desired outcome. Because of this, it will never achieve what collaboration can achieve.
Frankenstein's monster is the result of a cooperative model. A baby on the other hand, that's pure collaboration.
Cooperation as a business management model has delivered all it is capable of. It's had a good run, but the future is about collaboration at scale. And finally, we have the tools to enable a truly collaborative work environment. That's what today's social technology brings to business management.
Collaborative Systems Drive Innovation
Every company, whether they realize it or not, is now a computer based interactive system that has the potential for breakthrough collaboration within it. The real time and spatial relevance that your social technology enabled employees, customers, partners and investors are and will increasingly demand, presents this opportunity and also requires that you view your company along these lines.
The experience that you deliver to your markets through these tools means your entire organization now needs to work and function like a collaborative real time system, not a cooperative assembly line—chugging along producing widget after widget with each corporate silo completing it's assigned task.
Customer experience is no longer about "have a nice day" it's about "have an integrated one." Creating seamless engagement, interaction, connectivity and unique experiences throughout the computer based interactive system that is your company is the next business management paradigm that leaders need to understand and embrace.
If You're Not SOCIAL, What Are You?
The ability for your markets to enable collective action in real time has created a permanent shift in market power away from every company. The only way to fight this shift is with the very same technology that created it.
Today's social technologies enable you to control new domains—the last mile of connectivity has been bridged with space and time based relevancy through these new tools. What can you do differently and what can you do better to enhance the experience that your collaborative organization brings to your markets through these technologies and new domains?
Hanging onto a cooperative model won't give you the potential for breakthrough innovation and will eventually create havoc everywhere. However, the collaborative computer based interactive system that is inside every company, and wanting to come out, will create innovation and happy markets everywhere.