The Future of Work…COLLABORATION

The future of work is sharing.  We are now in the era of workplace collaboration and collaborative communities, the Open Source Movement.
The days of hoarding information, developing proprietary intellectual capital that is selfishly held under organizational “lock and key” is so…20th Century.  In today’s era of Big Data, mobile processing, cloud computing and virtual work teams, organizations that embrace collaboration gain lasting competitive advantage.
Successful organizations understand that in order to maintain their competitive advantage, they have no choice but to collaborate their way to lasting success.
Steve Jobs Inspired Collaboration at Pixar

Steve Jobs famously redesigned the offices at Pixar, which originally housed computer scientists in one building, animators in a second building, and executives and editors in a third.  Jobs recognized that separating these groups, each with its own culture and approach to problem-solving, discouraged them from sharing ideas and solutions. (

Perhaps the animators could introduce a fresh perspective when the computer scientists became stuck; and maybe the executives would learn more about the nuts and bolts of the business if they occasionally met an animator in the office kitchen, or a computer scientist at the water cooler. Jobs ultimately succeeded in creating a single cavernous office that housed the entire Pixar team, and John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, declared that he’d “never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”
These days, even business competitors are forced to work together…”co-opetition” between such traditional adversaries as Google, Microsoft, Apple…is the new normal.   Samsung and Sony’s successful collaboration in 2006 to jointly produce LCD screens.  (Co-opetition: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)   These firms have found a way to work with one another in certain industries, evolving technologies and new product ideas, and yet still compete in other areas.   Organizations that truly understand the power of sharing and collaboration encourage their people to share.
Consider Linux.


The computer operating system Linux powers 98% of the world’s supercomputers, most of the servers that keep the Internet humming, and tens of millions of Android mobile phones and gadgets.  As an open-source system, Linux relies on the collaboration of programmers from around the world.  (Chad Caydo “Lessons From Linux: How to Foster Collaboration at Meetings and Conferences.”)



Google encourages its people to collaborate within and across teams by aligning Objectives & Key Results as developed by John Doerr.  If OKRs are done well when they are (1) connected to top line company goals (2) shared openly- so anyone can see anyone’s goals and why it matters to the company and (3) cross-functionally aligned so dependencies across teams are clear from the get go as part of planning process.   (How does Google foster collaboration among teams with non-overlapping OKRs)

Wikipedia has achieved such wide scale success as a platform driven by mass user content contributions where people freely share their own intellectual capital.
In the 20th Century, organizations that controlled the platforms to disseminate information (the media) controlled the message and the very nature of conversation.  Today’s sharing organizations facilitate the free flow of information to enable the sharing of ideas by enabling individuals talk to the world via the Internet and social media.
We can now collaborate online, work productively in virtual teams with members all over the world, and disseminate radical, even revolutionary ideas that spark movements to change the world like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.
Organizations that dominate their respective industries are the ones that most effectively leverage their people’s talents and unleash their employees’ full, untapped potential.  They do this by developing learning organizations where they coach and train their people to use creativity and innovation in project-driven teams.  They foster friendly competitions within their organizations and within their industry through professional associations.
How does your organization foster workplace sharing and collaboration to create a learning organization?
Here’s to your continued success in 2016.