Collaborating at work is not an option, it’s just something we all have to do. In fact, “stimulating and facilitating information and knowledge sharing between employees is considered as very important by 71% of organizations”  and most would agree that it’s critical for success. So, if we all truly believe that working together is essential, why don’t we just do it? Why do we find it annoying and frustrating, and why is it so hard to actually work together?
Collaboration requires effort
A March 2016 Forrester report by Art Schoeller entitled, “Define Business Value In Collaboration” , confirms “The effect of more people driving and refining a business activity can dramatically improve results. While we see and understand the effect of collective action on the open Internet, we often lack the culture and technology to drive the same results in our work environment.” Why is that, what’s really going on?
Well, according to Fréderic Laloux, when we walk into the office in the morning, when we visit a customer, or when we pick up the phone, we put on our “working mask”. We aren’t fully ourselves, in fact we’re only a very small part of ourselves.
In his book entitled, “Reinventing Organizations” , Mr. Laloux explains that we are only 1/16 of ourselves, and that the rest of “us” is hidden behind the mask. Why do we need this mask you ask? To protect ourselves of course, from judgement, criticism, and possibly even foul play. We become a “professional animal”. As a result team creativity and efficiency is constrained, simply because team members are hiding 15/16 of themselves behind their mask.
Unfortunately, maintaining the mask takes a lot of energy and working together requires effort. And that effort isn’t always immediately rewarded.
Collaboration is time consuming
Organizations have become more and more complex. According to the Boston Consulting Group, “the index of complicatedness” has multiplied by 6 over the past 60 years, making collaboration ever more time consuming. Chief Executive cites the BCG report: “in the 20% of organizations that are the most complicated, managers spend 40% of their time writing reports, and 30% to 60% of it in coordination meetings. That doesn’t leave much time for them to work with their teams.”
Not only that, but the more complex the organization, the more knowledge workers spend time looking for information. According to Art Schoeller of Forrester, “more than half of highly paid roles like sales (52%), professional services (55%), and IT/technology (53%) spend an hour or more searching each day.”2 Leveraging the collective knowledge is hugely time consuming.
Collaboration tools are disappointing
Information and knowledge sharing can’t be avoided, so how do enterprises facilitate collaboration? They buy tools. However, “in four out of ten companies, quality of collaborative and personal productivity tools is considered as low”. 
The main challenges sound very familiar, and include :
- ”Ease to use tools and ergonomics”
- “Interoperability between solutions”
- “Access to applications from mobile devices”
You can make collaboration less painful
Success really comes down to two key ingredients – people and technology.
People come first. Fredéric Laloux suggests a number of ways to unleash the collaborative potential using what he calls self-management, wholeness and evolutionary purpose. In other words, freeing employees from the weight of their hierarchy, from their “professional mask”, and from the dictate of the “corporate vision”.
As for technology, while there are many tools out there to choose from, they often don’t address the key challenges mentioned above including ease of use, interoperability and mobility, and result in a low adoption rate by employees.
 Reinventing Organziations, Fréderic Laloux
 Reinventing Organziations, Fréderic Laloux, 2014