There may be many reasons but here are a few which might resonate.
Most traditional organisations are set up with defined hierarchies and department structures which group together all those doing similar tasks. These enable clarity of purpose and direction for each department or function and may even encourage greater teamwork within those defined areas. On the flip side these structures can lead to one department viewing another as ‘the opposition’ or ‘the problem’ rather than all being on the same side of delivering the company vision. I have seen and heard this all too often in my career.
Most corporate environments these days will have processes in place for assessing an employee’s potential, appraising employees , promoting and rewarding the talent in an organisation. Whilst each of these processes can add value to an organisation – they can also lead to employees being ‘in competition’ with each other. People compete to have a better appraisal than their colleague, to make sure their individual achievements are recognised, to achieve that promotion. In most organisations (not all), these processes encourage the individual to focus on ‘I’ not ‘We’ and the reward structures then compensate them accordingly. It is not only HR processes – the annual financial budgeting process also elicits this competitive spirit – as each department ‘bids’ for the available resources.
Where leaders promote an environment that encourages individuals to compete with each other, it can create a culture that is the opposite of the behaviours and mindset which enable collaboration. Our employees will follow what they see the leaders do. As leaders , are we displaying the right behaviours , or do we blame other teams and department, rather than try to understand their issues and challenges?
Start ups and smaller enterprises tend to have much more fluid structures , processes and culture and with it the agility to respond more rapidly, working with others to achieve the right outcome.
Is it time for big business to learn from the start up when it comes to collaboration?