What Lack of Collaboration Costs

over 1 year ago, David Sweet



“Collaboration” might seem like a fuzzy term to many leaders, but for Human Resources professionals, developing collaboration presents a constant challenge.  And the costs of poor collaboration definitely makes for concrete impact. The business news frequently reminds us of this fact.

For example, I remember the defective ignition switch at General Motors that cost the company $2.7 billion USD. The automaker spent $680 million to repair, rework, or replace parts and keys in about 12.1 million cars. In addition, lawsuits from consumers totaled $10 billion, not to mention falling car prices and other damages. A consulting report concluded that the cause of the defect stemmed from a silo-based culture that covered up issues and did not collaborate well.

Similarly, many healthcare organizations operate in silos and do not communicate effectively across spans of control. If a manager in one silo needs something from a manager in another silo, she needs to go all the way up her chain of command to her Vice President, who then reaches across the organization to a Vice President, who then goes down the chain of command to the manager, and so on. This form of communication slows action and facilitates miscommunication, especially when patient lives weigh in the balance. Add to this complexity the challenges of communicating with physicians who do not report directly within the hospital’s reporting structure, but rather have their own practices. Additionally, within academic medical centers, many administrators report to two or more managers in matrixed relationships, and have to balance multiple roles.

To give another example, in highly technical organizations, many skilled employees have spent years learning a technical function, but have neglected how to collaborate on teams. As a result they fail to relate effectively to others, convey their ideas with impact, or get what they need to grow their department within the business. The result: teams fail; projects stall. Multiply this effect across the organization, especially when teams have to work cross-functionally, and the results can hurt an organization’s competitive position.

As organizations become more complex, collaboration becomes a core skill that every leader, team, and business unit must have. In some cases, this means structuring the organization to make collaboration easier. In other cases, it means equipping managers and employees with new attitudes and behaviors.

FocusCore has a proven approach and methodology to help your organization excel at collaboration, whether within your organization or at building alliances outside your company. Contact us today to learn more.