In a comment yesterday, Stephen Downes, proposed that cooperation was better suited for complexity and collaboration fit better with complicated situations. Harold Jarche's initial concept drew from Shawn Callahan's post last December for Anecdote that used the Cynefin framework to differentiate between uses of coordination, cooperation and collaboration. My dictionary gives cooperation and collaboration two slightly different inflections to the idea of "working together", the exact title of Harold Jarche's post. The denotation is practically synonymous.
I mean two very different things by "cooperation" and "collaboration". These meanings make sense of cooperation fitting with market responses to complicated situations and collaboration arising in network responses to complex situations:
Cooperation connotes concessions of our own selfish aims while going along with another's agenda. We cooperate (or not) when someone else wants our agreement, permission, support or accommodation. Cooperation involves a reversal of our winning at their expense, taking advantage of their situation or parlaying their neediness in our favor. We switch to backing off, backing down, or giving in to their requests in order to cooperate with what others need or want from us. We are deploying a lose/win strategy in the chart of relational grammars.
Collaboration connotes the co-generation of new accomplishments, outputs and results. We collaborate (or not) when someone wants to pick our brain, get our input or come up with some ideas to help them. Collaboration involves a reversal of our merely cooperating, going along with their agenda or accommodating their needs. We switch to sharing responsibility for getting something done, solving a problem to our mutual satisfaction or making a difference we'll both benefit from. We are deploying a win/win strategy in the chart of relational grammars.
I also mean very different things by market and network responses as I detailed in yesterday's post: Reading situational responses. here's some further elaboration of the connection between networks and complexity that markets fall short of:
Markets structure mostly unilateral relationships between enterprises and their customers. The customers purchase and use what is sold to them. Networks structure bi-lateral relationships with their customers who contribute timely innovations, generate better buzz than any paid advertising, and expose flaws in service, product reliability or brand positioning. The customers make passionate use of the digitized, "free self-expression" context to collaborate with enterprises to make them more successful.In another comment that followed up on Stephen's proposed change, Murl wrote the following:
Markets keep rival enterprises disconnected to avoid appearances of collusion, price fixing, monopoly controls and other anti-trust violations. Rivals may concede to the advances made their competitors advertising, product upgrades and value proposition innovations. They do not help them achieve those aims. Networks connect rivals in order to share resources and mutually benefit from industry wide advancements. Rivals collaborate to adopt new technology, comply with new standards, cultivate new talent for the entire industry.
I think it is the right way around because it does depend on a definition of collaboration. From my research I have noted the high degree of complexity of collaboration that operates in both the physical and virtual worlds as well as being very high risk driven towards an uncertain goal. That is, those who collaborate are highly vulnerable and exposed. On the other hand, participation in a cooperative venture is negotiated and agreed around a known goal. I would argue that collaboration is the highest order of working together and highly complex.This adds two more dimensions to the distinction between cooperation and collaboration that help us sort out this issue. The situation is merely complicated when cooperating toward an established goal with little risk exposure/vulnerability. The situation becomes extremely complex when the goal is opened ended and the participants are vulnerable to those uncertainties amidst their collaboration.
All these considerations reinforce how Shawn and Harold applied the Cynefin framework to coordination, cooperation and collaboration modes of working together.