21 surprising ways to kill collaboration in your organisation

We all talk about encouraging collaboration as a way of working in our organisation and across organisations.

It’s a difficult task.  In a recent APM Knowledge SIG that I took part in we looked at Collaboration, co-operation and competition – project environments through a knowledge lens.

With some great example of how different organisations are encouraging collaboration.

But the fun started when we asked the audience how do you kill collaboration in an organisation? 

And how do you do it at different levels in the organisation?

We asked for them to come up with silly, crazy, insane and a few sensible answers to this question. 

And here is a summary of some of the responses:




1.Refuse to use common systems

2.Hide behind rules

3.Be unwilling to share experience/knowledge

4.Be unwilling to stay informed

5.Lack of communication / commitment

6.Claim responsibility for other work

7.Undermine others

8.Allow no time to collaborate

9.Insist on email only for communication

10.Have no team meetings or briefings

11.Be a mood hover

12.Have a lack of emotional intelligence

13.Micro manage

14.Constant Team restructure

15.Have no strategy

16.Create a blame culture

17.Using unhelpful metrics

18.Reward wrong behaviours

19.Be invisible

20.Discourage social interaction between colleagues

21.Create the fear of failure


One thing we did note is that there will be a lot of cross-over between the levels.  But the impact of the behaviour by people at the different levels will make or break collaboration in the organisation.

What other ways could you suggest would kill collaboration in an organisation?


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John Rudkin 4 Years Ago
I have only just read this article Michael, but it is very useful. I'm not sure the 21 listed ways are a surprise at all. I think these scenarios are all known and regularly met, but there is a tendency to only see those that affect us from above. The matrix/columns entries are very easy to identify with, and I think the various role levels will easily recognise the issues raised. In open Leadership discussions the sort of exercise this suggests would be a very valuable one - and while uncomfortable for some, its very identification and the acknowledgement that collaboration, co-operation and competition can be undermined would be a significant step forward in reducing its impact.