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Encourage cooperation

Encourage cooperation

Cooperation between teams is a key driver of agility, but it is not easy to establish. How can we create the conditions to get people to want to invest in the collective game?


In a context of complexity and rapid change, cooperation across teams is a major strength. It makes it possible for people to adapt quickly to unforeseen situations, by reinforcing their ability to coordinate effectively when established processes appear unsuited. Cooperation is thus an essential ingredient of the agility that organizations clearly need. That being said, cooperation does not come naturally. Indeed, teams rather tend to function like a clan, often with a clear demarcation from those who are not members. This easily leads to the development of defensive reflexes, feelings of superiority and deprecation of other teams. Yet, the feeling of belonging that underlies these behaviors also constitutes a powerful performance driver, as it is a vector of motivation, enthusiasm and pride. Managers are thus confronted with a dilemma, i.e., how can they foster the cohesion of their team without jeopardizing cooperation with other teams?

To resolve this dilemma, it must be understood that reluctance to cooperate often results from feelings of insecurity and lack of trust. Some indeed fear to lose out in cooperation. They ask themselves, “Will my contribution to this project be recognized in line with my investment? Wouldn't I be better off devoting myself to things I can fully control? Isn't it risky to give others a say in my choices and how I work?” These are all legitimate questions that managers must anticipate and address.

Social psychology studies also confirm that we tend to prefer immediate gains to more remote prospects of greater gain. However, cooperation requires time to establish and is often profitable only in the medium term. The tightening of timelines in companies and the share taken by individual objectives may encourage people to gravitate towards solutions that are ultimately less profitable but faster to implement than cooperation.

Aware of these difficulties, managers still possess drivers that enable them to both establish the necessary climate of trust and instill expected cooperative behaviors.

In this synopsis:
- Create a climate of trust favorable to cooperation
- Remove the obstacles to cooperation
- Set the stage for effective cross-company collaboration


Synopsis n.232b