10 May Collaboration is Bullshit
Everybody talks about collaboration. Coworking spaces are supposedly all about collaboration. Groups of people working together on a project or exchanging time with each other. This is supposed to lead to new innovations and a better culture.
I don’t think this works.
The reason collaboration doesn’t work is that collaboration almost always ends up being associated with as a form of exchange. Which means one side gives more than the other. Which means extra work that one participant didn’t sign up for. Which means, ultimately, that people will stop collaborating because they didn’t sign up to work for free. Collaboration ultimately falls short because it is not a gift.
Instead, consider generosity.
Generosity is about providing value without expecting anything in return (except maybe karma). It creates an imbalance as well, but in the opposite direction. Instead of attempting to make everything equal, generosity removes the scale completely. It inculcates a different mentality; one that stops people from focusing on what the other person is doing altogether.
Imagine a coworking space built on generosity. Imagine how the members would act, imagine the culture. If everybody in the space approaches each interaction and activity with as much generosity as possible, the space will be transformed and the experience will be irreplaceable.
A great way to encourage generosity is to lead by example. One way you might do that is with RAOK (random acts of kindness). Surprise people by generously helping them with something or cutting them slack when they least expect it. Make lunch for everybody one day. Invest some of your profit into bringing in some live entertainment (that means music) to your next happy hour. Don’t tell anybody, don’t expect applause, just do it.
In a few months you’ll have a community that recognizes and values generosity, and collaboration can pack its bags and cry on the way to the train station.