Cooperating: How dreams can become reality!

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Communication, Partnership
Tags: , , , ,
Synchronized swimming

Image by uwdigitalcollections via Flickr

Last month I’ve read an article on how organisations cooperate regarding IT, which contains a couple of conclusions which I recognize very much in practice. Although the article is mainly talking about cooperations between organizations, it appears also applicable for situations within large enterprises and institutions. The article is written by a couple of advisers of dutch consultancy firm TwynstraGudde (

They illustrate that most partnerships are based on trying to realize the perfect world. Managers as well as IT professionals are very capable of dreaming of the ideal organisation, proces or IT solutions. A world in which every hospital has the same process, or comparable departments are exactly the same because they produce the same results. But, in reality it’s always less perfect. Some barriers are mentioned which are in the way of the perfect world.

1. Irrational behaviour
Although partnerships seems to be based on rational arguments, in practice it’s hardly the case. Most managers and IT professionals tend to act as result of emotional or at least less rational motives, which they can cover very well in rational arguments.

2. Lack of trust
Trust is neccessary, but isn’t there from the beginning. Trust needs time to grow.

3. Shared versus individual benefits
In realizing the ideal situation, cooperating partners need to give and take. In many cases, costs and benefits won’t be for one single party. The shared goal should prevail over the individual goals.

4. Concept versus reality
In bringing different parties together, the idealized concept needs to be translated into practice. This needs to be done on an abstract level. Too much details will harm the partnership, due to the fact that people will keep on discussing details, and will not longer focus on the shared goal.

5. Organisation and ICT not in sync
After development ICT systems will be implemented in a rather short period of time. Organisational changes aren’t implemented in a split second. Once the systems are implemented, organisational changes will take off, and it will take time. Often management expectations are too high, and they expect all the benefits as soon as the systems are implemented. Often this leads to disappointed management which threathen the partnership.

6. Different backgrounds
A partnership between organisations (but in my view also within the larger organisations) requires people from different disciplines to work together. This sounds easier than it is. People tend to be biased, and it’s common that they don’t understand each other.

In the article, some recommendations are given to solve the issues herefore mentioned.

  • use former failures, learn what went wrong
  • keep your eyes on the shared goal and common stakes
  • stay away from details
  • preferably institutionalise a new entity for the partnership
  • make absolutely sure that there is full executive commitment
  • don’t approach the partnership as a project, but as a process.
  • stimulate people with guts.

For people involved in cooperating entities, whether between or within companies, these insight should be recognizable. Especially true in the field of business/IT relationships. The recommendations could inspire you as well!!


Gloudemans, Migiel, Opheij, Wilfrid, Wendel de Joode, Ruben van, Wittkampf, Michiel: Samenwerken en ict, hoe dromen toch werkelijkheid kunnen worden, TIEM 39, 2010 (Dutch).


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