Collaboration: A Dirty Word?

I read a wonderful book not too long ago entitled “The Culture Code”, which had, as its thesis, the concept that each culture has a “coded” set of primal affinities and aversions. Through group regressions, the author – Clotaire Rapaille – claimed to be able to distill the essence of a culture’s feelings for a particular object or concept at the most basic, reptilian level of consciousness. The book is a fascinating read.

What hit me most as I read it, however, was the gulf between people’s stated impressions based on rational explanations versus their “true feelings” which lay beneath, deeply imprinted upon them by their culture.

And that got me thinking about collaboration. My suspicion is that collaboration is not “on code” for North Americans. We love the concept on an intellectual level. It makes sense to collaborate, to work together, to leverage the experience and intelligence of the group; but my guess is that the concept makes people nervous on a visceral level.

Doesn’t it mean that you, personally, aren’t worth very much? Don’t we value champions? Shouldn’t we want to “Be a Tiger?”

While doing some research on Wikipedia not too long ago, I came across a great quote by someone arguing that it is not the end product of Wikipedia that people object to, it’s the process by which it was (and is) made.

Culturally, collaboration is seen – I think – as a bit of a rip-off. Where’s the hero? Who’s idea was it? Who gets credit? Who profits?

Test it; what does collaboration mean to you? If you’re gauging only by results, collaboration seems great. But don’t you really want to be able to say “That was my idea”?

2 Responses to “Collaboration: A Dirty Word?”

  1. Andy Heppelle
    January 7, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    There is gift giving scale, that I have observed in action at every presentation, of any kind. There are those that are more excited to give than to get and those that are just the opposit. The level of excitement varies in all the shades of gray between black and white. I believe that those that get a kick out of giving, get a kick out of collaboration. “Working with” is taking that leap of faith that other human beings will care for the shared outcome as much as you do.

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