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Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Build Common Ground, and Reap Big Results Hardcover – April 14, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Hansen’s book is a good and practical read — an excellent example of making academic research accessible” – Federal Computer Week

About the Author

Morten T. Hansen is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and INSEAD in France. Previously, he was an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he taught leadership and general management. In addition to his academic career, Hansen has been a management consultant for a number of years with the Boston Consulting Group. He holds a PhD from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; unknown edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422115151
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422115152
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Increasing collaboration sits at or near the top of most executives' to-do list, and much has been wrttten about it. A search of amazon's business and investing books for the keyword "collaboration" turns up nearly 37,000 books. Why, you might ask, do we need another one? Hansen has not written "a" book about collaboration, he has written "the" book on the topic. Hansen's "Collaboration" makes a bold promise--to provide the definitive treatment of the topic. It delivers on that promise.

Hansen starts with fundamentals. Firms exist to create economic value (as well as to capture and sustain value into the future). In most business books, collaboration is unmoored from any consideration of economic value creation and treated as an inherent good. Hansen, in contrast, anchors his analysis in a hard-nosed economic analysis of when collaboration creates value, that includes not only a project's benefits, but also the costs of collaboration and the opportunity cost of foregoing alternatives. The author's analysis leads to counter-intuitive findings--not all collaboration is good and more is not better. His analysis slices through the fluff of so many books on collaboration and brings readers to the hard edges of value creation.

The book follows a clear structure. After framing collaboration in terms of its benefits, Hansen provides a systematic list of obstacles that inhibit cooperation in many firms. His list is the closest to a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive taxonomy of barriers that I have seen. Hansen also includes a diagnostic to help managers assess the specific barriers to cooperation that they face. The book then provides extremely practical steps to enhance coordination within a firm.
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Format: Hardcover
Every company wants collaboration, but few know how to go about it.

Collaboration by Morten Hansen is highly recommended reading for those who want to create collaboration rather than just read about it. Collaboration is often held up as a universal virtue - something we all should do to be good citizens. This makes books on collaboration preachy, reading more like a sermon than a serious analysis. This book is serious analysis presented in a clear, logical and actionable way.

Hansen covers this complex issue in 169 pages of tightly focused, well researched and action oriented approach. This makes the book, highly recommended for executives and managers looking to figure out how to create the right kind of collaboration in their companies.

However, the book has some serious limitations and hence the 4 star review. First it does not address technology at all. This is a major weakness given the flowering of collaboration technologies and systems. A book in 2009 without a discussion of this is somewhat incomplete. The second major weakness is that Hansen talks almost exclusively about executive/corporate collaboration - head office type of work rather than the operational, sales, service problem solving collaboration that drives and sustains performance. Both of these gaps seem to be due to his limited research base (large companies and product development)- perhaps areas for a second book, which would be welcome.

Hansen provides a realistic and practical view of collaboration.
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Recently I read a few books on the general topic of collaboration. My favorite was Morten Hansen's "Collaboration." Published by Harvard Business Press and written by an INSEAD/Berkeley professor, it is naturally very business focused. It emphasizes the importance of cultural issues, it suggests several best practices, and it provides many case studies.

Hansen begins by enumerating several collaboration "traps":
-collaborating in hostile territory
-overcollaborating (it is refreshing for an author to suggest that his thesis and the title to his book isn't universally applicable)
-overshooting the potential value
-underestimating costs
-misdiagnosing the problem
-implementing the wrong solution

He suggests that the solution to these traps is "disciplined collaboration ... the leadership practice of properly assessing when to collaborate (and when not to) and instilling in people both the willingness and ability to collaborate when required"

The three steps in disciplined collaboration are to:
-evaluate opportunities for collaboration
-spot barriers to collaborate
-tailor collaboration solutions

In general, his case for collaboration is that it provides better innovation, better sales, and better operations - all of which can lead to sales growth, cost savings, and asset efficiency.

The four barriers to successful collaboration are:
-not invented here syndrome
-hoarding
-search problems
-transfer issues

The three levers to tear down these barriers are:
-unify people, reduce motivational barriers and get buy-in toward a common goal
-encourage T-shaped management that rewards both independent results and cross-unit contributions.
-create nimble, not bloated networks across organizations that deliver results

Finally the author discusses how you grow to be a collaborative leader.
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