When collaboration becomes bureaucratized

It seems likely to me that "collaboration" will become the next buzzword and management fad. When that happens, some enterprises will realize the many benefits of collaboration both internally and externally. If past history is any indication, those beneficiaries will be the exception. The majority of enterprises will "conform to the letter of the law while missing the original intent". They will pay for the formal apparatus without getting it to function. They'll put on a show of joining the herd while getting no return on their investment.

As this scenario played out in my imagination this morning, it occurred to me there would be mountains of digitized paperwork to fill out and file appropriately. Here's some of the lines I expect to see on the reporting forms:
  • Please list the names of departments and/or individuals with whom you've collaborated in the last period.
  • Indicate how you've developed rapport and common objectives with your collaborators.
  • Note how much time have you spent on collaborations and on isolated efforts.
  • Submit verifications from your collaborators of how much time you've spent collaborating with each of them.
  • Estimate how your work has benefited from your particular collaborations.
  • Rate your collaborators on the following criteria (1 low, 10 high):
  1. ease of understanding their intentions, outlooks, concerns, etc
  2. accessibility for getting advice, alternative perspectives, F2F time together
  3. creativity applied to ways of seeing problems, innovative solutions, etc.
  4. transparency of their thought processes, self evaluations, problem formulations, etc.
  5. commitment to the process of collaboration when differences arise
  6. trustworthiness and reliability when expected to take initiative
  7. openness and receptivity to feedback, guidance, criticism from you
  • Collect the ratings of yourself from each of your collaborators and summarize the results.

Once it becomes standard practice to "coerce collaboration" this way, we can expect to see it in most classrooms. All those little "bureaucrats in training" will no longer receive the same grade as the other members of their group projects. Half the time on the project will get spent, back at their desks, completing forms that take collaboration literally. The students will learn to think of collaboration as procedures and miss the point.

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