The Twenty Success Factors of Collaboration


I’ve been doing a lot of research for the book I’m working on for McGraw Hill.  A part of that research isn’t just understanding emergent collaboration as it exists today in the era of all these new tools but also understanding collaboration at its core.  So, I’ve been researching and reading a lot about collaboration prior to the development of any of these tools to understand more of the human dynamics behind collaboration.  I graduated with a dual B.A. from UCSC and one of those B.A’s was in psychology so naturally understanding collaboration is both fun and interesting for me.

I wanted to share something I came across from a book called “Collaboration: What Makes It Work” by Paul W. Mattesich, Ph.D., Marta Murray-Close, B.A., Barbara R. Monsey, M.P.H, and the Wilder Research Center.

The book addresses the twenty success factors of collaboration as done through quite a bit of research.  These factors are grouped into 6 areas:

  1. Environment
  2. Membership characteristics
  3. Process and structure
  4. Communication
  5. Purpose
  6. Resources

Let’s take a look at each one of these 6 areas and the factors under reach:

  • A history of collaboration or cooperation in the community
  • Collaboration group seen as a legitimate leader in the community
  • Favorable political and social climate
Membership characteristics
  • Mutual respect, understanding, and trust
  • Appropriate cross section of the members
  • Members see collaboration as in their self-interest
  • Ability to compromise
Process and structure
  • Members share a stake in both the process and the outcome
  • Multiple layers of participation
  • Flexibility
  • Development of clear roles and policy guidelines
  • Adaptability
  • Appropriate pace of development
  • Open and frequent communication
  • Established informal relationships and communication links
  • Concrete, attainable goals and objectives
  • Shared vision
  • Unique purpose
  • Sufficient funds, staff, materials, and time
  • Skilled leadership

Keep in mind that this book was written before Jive, Socialtext, Tibbr, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social and emergent collaboration platforms that we know of today existed.  Which in my opinion makes these factors even more interesting and relevant because they don’t focus on technology.  Perhaps I will spend more time discussing each of these factors in more details in subsequent posts.


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Jacob Morgan

Jacob Morgan 

Principal of Chess Media Group, management consulting and strategic advisory on enterprise and consumer social and collaborative strategy and technology (Enterprise 2.0 & Social CRM). Author of Twittfaced, a social media 101 book for business. Working on a book for McGraw Hill on enterprise collaboration. World traveler, racquetball player, and chess lover!

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