collaboration myths

5 myths of collaboration

When we talk about increasing collaboration within teams, it’s easy to come up against well-worn myths.

More often than not, these myths turn into beliefs that end up holding us back from creating a collaborative team environment. The result? A workplace culture where teams work in silos and everyone is running their own race.

Today we’re hoping that by sharing these five common myths about collaboration it’ll help put you on the path to create some serious change within your organisation.

Ready to wrap your head around the myths surrounding team collaboration? Let’s get straight to it.


5 Common Myths About Collaboration



MYTH #1: ‘The best ideas happen when you hire smart people’

When Google was founded, they unashamedly were elitist in their hiring; Ivy League and Rhodes Scholars were their picks. Guess what happened? It was a dismal failure.

TRUTH: People skills are far more important than smarts and intelligence.

Laszlo Bock, the Head of Human Resources at Google told the New York Times, “GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless…. We found that they don’t predict anything.”


MYTH #2: ‘Collaboration is simply putting the pieces of a puzzle together’

We have this belief that collaboration is purely about putting what I know and connecting it with what you know to finish the puzzle.

TRUTH: Collaboration is a process of learning and expanding our thinking.

The truth is that 1 + 1 = 3. Questioning ideas deepens our understanding and allows us to explore new territory. At the heart of it, collaboration is a learning platform. When we share what we know, everyone benefits.


MYTH #3: ‘Collaboration is easy’

Collaboration requires an investment of time and energy. It doesn’t happen automatically, and in order for it to work, there needs to be a strong sense of trust between colleagues.

When trust is high in our work relationships things happen quickly; there is a certain speed to our work that kicks in. When trust is low or non-existent, it not only slows things down, it can actually be a roadblock to getting anything done.

TRUTH: Collaboration isn’t easy, but with trust, it’ll be smooth sailing.

In her research, Dr Brené Brown from University of Houston unpacks the anatomy of trust. She’s identified that trust is built through small everyday behaviours.

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to engage in and encourage behaviours that build trust within your team in order to create a collaborative workplace culture.

Through Dr Brown’s research she has discovered that the number one trust building behaviour in teams is asking for help. It’s these moments of vulnerability that matter in building connection, trust and collaboration.

Want to dive deeper into this topic? Grab a cuppa and watch this video of Brené Brown discussing trust.


MYTH #4: ‘Collaboration is only needed when working on a solution to a problem’

When we’re riding the wave of collaboration, people are going to have ideas that are rejected, they may even openly disagree with where the project is heading. These are not reasons to give up on collaboration, but a stark reminder that collaboration is not sunshine and double-rainbows all the way.

In science it’s known as functional fixedness; this is where we have a depth of knowledge about what is required in our area of expertise, and we don’t question our approach.

Whilst this is beneficial to getting the job done, it’s detrimental to creative thinking and agile behaviours. The benefits of connecting with others outside of your area of expertise are immense.

TRUTH: Collaboration goes hand in hand with creativity.

So, step out of your comfort zone and create ‘random acts of partnership’ to explore new possibilities.


MYTH #5: ‘Collaboration creates ownership’

Although having people involved in collaborative discussions is valuable, the reality is that just because they have been involved doesn’t necessarily mean they have ownership over the work.

TRUTH: Collaboration requires ownership.

Ownership requires a personal commitment from individuals. To achieve this, it is worthwhile using a visual planning method or project management system in order to assign tasks and keep projects on track.


So, there you have it, the myths that cloud our vision of what true collaboration is. Pass this blog post onto a fellow leader, or better yet, give it a share on LinkedIn for some extra brownie points.