Great post by Jesse Lyn Stoner, Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership, on the distinction between collaboration, coordination, and cooperation.

Often the words collaboration, coordination, and cooperation are used to describe effective teamwork. But they are not the same, and when we use these words interchangeably, we dilute their meaning and diminish the potential for creating powerful, collaborative workplaces.

She shares the following definitions:

Collaboration is working together to create something new in support of a shared vision. The key points are that is is not an individual effort, something new is created, and that the glue is the shared vision.

Coordination is sharing information and resources so that each party can accomplish their part in support of a mutual objective. It is about teamwork in implementation. Not creating something new.

Cooperation is important in networks where individuals exchange relevant information and resources in support of each other’s goals, rather than a shared goal. Something new may be achieved as a result, but it arises from the individual, not from a collective team effort.

I appreciate that clarification — and also her note on when collaboration is important:

 … in an interdependent organization, collaboration is the bedrock of creative solutions and innovation.

Reference kudos to: Stephen Downes

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