4 Types of Collaboration: A Comprehensive Guide

From the first alliances in IT and health in the 1970s to today's partner ecosystems of jointly created value, collaboration for innovation is taking new and interesting forms. Not only do these new collaborative relationships require different ways of thinking about resources, but they also encourage innovation for the common good. To help answer those compelling questions, this article will explore the four main types of collaboration: team collaboration, community collaboration, network collaboration, and cloud collaboration. The most basic and enduring type of collaboration for innovation is a strategic alliance.

Strategic alliances are agreements between two or more independent firms that temporarily combine resources and efforts to achieve their strategic objectives. Alliances made headlines in the 1970s and 1980s, when IT multinationals (IBM, Microsoft, Apple), semiconductors (Intel) and biotechnology (Roche, Genentech, Eli Lilly) were experiencing the limitations of their own internal resources. As a result, they began to take advantage of the assets available abroad to increase their competitiveness and achieve increasingly complex objectives. The second type of collaboration agreement, which is often still used today, is through the creation of a portfolio of collaborators. Effective collaboration can take many forms.

From the first strategic alliances in IT and pharmaceuticals to today's transportation, retail and utility ecosystems, companies and their employees are coming together to solve problems they couldn't address on their own. Self-agitating pots, smart thermostats and 3D-printed bridges are the product of an ambitious collaboration. To reach a new level of collaboration and team organization, team collaboration has been around for a long time. It involves collaboration within a team in which everyone knows each other, their skills and their contribution to the work in general. A team leader usually guides the team towards effective collaboration and is responsible for maintaining balance within the team.

Deadlines are set and achievements are also recognized. When it comes to a digital workplace, it's essential to adapt your culture of collaboration to a digital platform. Contextual collaboration occurs when you bring all your digital tools together into a single digital workplace platform so that your entire team can access all the files and data they need without having to switch between applications or tools when they need to collaborate. This puts the work in context and offers greater efficiency and productivity for the team. As the title highlights, community collaboration consists of encouraging a sense of community in shared work within teams. It focuses on learning and sharing knowledge within teams, rather than carrying out tasks or completing teamwork.

The general idea of community collaboration is to eliminate silos and hierarchy and, at the same time, to encourage the exchange of knowledge within teams. Its usefulness lies in the fact that senior members of a team can freely share the knowledge they have accumulated with individual members of the team or with a group and that the information they have is easily accessible. Community collaboration turns teams into knowledge banks rather than isolated subject matter experts working individually. To facilitate the exchange of information, presentation spaces are usually equipped with monitors and conference chairs oriented towards the presenter. We often use these spaces to share information and data in a visual way, to learn from a trainer or to listen to a guest speaker. People are encouraged to listen to the presenter and to ask questions at specific times, such as at the end of the presentation in the case of a talk, or they can collaborate with each other during a training session.

At Haworth, spaces designed to share information allow collaboration for large department-wide meetings, guest speakers, and client meetings. People need spaces for idea generation, brainstorming and strategic thinking. Generally designed with an informal atmosphere, these spaces usually have comfortable seats, such as sofas or chairs for guests, some privacy to avoid distracting others, a monitor and a whiteboard area for taking notes and working on ideas. Groups that benefit from this type of workspace strive to do things first, have a high degree of experimentation and individuality, take risks and adapt quickly. At Haworth headquarters, meeting areas are equipped with technology that allows employees to share, collaborate and generate ideas from anywhere.

Most organizations use these four types of collaboration spaces to meet the needs of their groups. Depending on the type of culture in the organization, a collaboration method may be preferred over one that better supports the team's primary responsibilities and choices. For example, a culture of collaboration emphasizes the value of teamwork and works as a close-knit group. This work environment will be dominated by social spaces that allow connection and a combination of activities.

Spaces for informing, thinking and doing are still necessary but won't be as frequent. In a culture of control on the other hand you'll find more spaces for sharing information where formal process-driven meetings are the norm. Even so teams may need to determine project plans and may have some social spaces for informal social connections. Considering the needs of your organization's teams is key to Haworth's organic workspace approach creating a work environment that aligns the effectiveness of people with efficiency of real estate.

Thanks to our research we know that taking a break to socialize with colleagues increases our happiness so people prefer comfortable spaces. The fastest-growing collaborative spaces are social spaces which benefit all types of culture are flexible communal and inspirational so people can pause meet discuss ideas or just take some time away from their desks.