Collaboration Vs Teamwork – a comparison that is being thrown around a lot these days. However, the difference between the two is a whole different story. 

Many believe that they represent the same idea – to come together and work together towards a common goal. At first, it might seem valid, but in reality, it is not. 

There are some key fundamental differences between ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Collaboration’, which is also the reason why one will not work in place of the other.

Through this particular post, I am making my attempt to get this confusion out of the way once and for all. 

Let’s start with the similarity first and why it leads people to think that apples are oranges. 

The phrase collaboration, by definition, goes like this – “Action of working with someone to produce something”. 

Now, isn’t it surprising how people think that it is the same as the phrase teamwork – “The collaborative effort of a group to achieve something in the most effective and efficient way

Sure, both teamwork and collaboration promote the idea of people working in a group to achieve a goal. But that is where the similarities end.

What is Teamwork?

Let me be more accurate – What is the crux of Teamwork?

There is a leader or director of sorts and individuals working as part of a team with clearly identified roles. This is similar to a Michelin star kitchen where there is a head chef under which the different chefs with clearly defined roles will work. 

Teamwork and Collaboration

It is a well-organized hierarchy. Everyone knows what is expected from them and they persevere to achieve their individual targets. This results in the fulfillment of the team target. 

Another great example of this is a scripted show, where the actors know their dialogues and the director knows what the next scene is.

To sum it up, teamwork is based on a controlled environment where hierarchies are clear and everyone knows their role and what is expected from them.

Communication, Delegation, Efficiency, Ideas, and Support – these are the key factors that oil the teamwork cog.

Feeling a little familiarity here? Read on. 

What is Collaboration?

During the collaboration, people are NOT working to satiate your pre-determined individual target. Rather they are working as a unit to create an end product. 

Effective collaboration requires all the members of a team/group/organization to think as one and move as a unit. It demands that everyone stays on the same page until the final result is successfully achieved. 

Consider collaboration as a live improv non-scripted comedy program. The actors have to work with each other to move it forwards and do not get any specific guidelines or individual as to how they are supposed to do it. The director just ensures everything is in order, he has no control over how the show will proceed or end.

Teamwork & Collaboration

And that brings us to the main crux of collaboration

There are no bosses, rather equal partners who have come together to achieve a new idea. It is not getting work done, it is creating something new, and that requires multiple inputs yet a high chemistry coherence which teamwork does not require.

However, this is not to say that teamwork is just a bland organization where no one communicates with each other. Rather, as is obvious, communication, mutual support, and shared responsibilities do play a major role. 

The difference is that it is still one-dimensional. Meaning, the people engaged in teamwork will usually have a clear shared idea and skills to work for a given goal.

In a collaboration, however, it is important to have a team with people of different skills and ideas. The challenge here is to gel all of these differences into one all-encompassing product. Sure it is a higher risk, higher pay off situation but collaboration is required at all times to keep a business moving forwards!

Here are the key factors that make Collaboration successful – Motivation, Communication, Diversity, Sharing, Support, and Problem-Solving.

Everything sounds good so far, right? 

Let me address an important question here – Can Teamwork & Collaboration replace each other?

The answer is, NO.

There are obvious limitations to both teamwork and collaborations. The most obvious one is the time consumed. One of the main advantages of teamwork is its time-effectiveness. With clearly defined targets each person can get working on his/her task without delay and in effect, the overall work gets done faster. In the case of a collaboration, time depends on whether the product is finished or not, in agreement with all members. 

Collaboration Vs Teamwork – The Final Call 

The right way to go here is ‘Collaboration and Teamwork’, not ‘Collaboration Vs Teamwork’.

Teamwork is the thing that will guarantee you effective product management and do the foundational work. Collaboration is the one that will pull you through to the finish with an amazing product. So, it goes without saying that both these strategies should hand in hand.

At Telebu, we let collaboration and teamwork to complement each other. 

In the current scenario, this is made possible with grptalk and TelebuJoin. These are the tools that facilitate us to remain productively connected while safely working from home.

Now, next time someone asks you the difference between collaboration and teamwork, don’t get onboard that both are similar bandwagon. Integrate an understanding of both these into your work and realize a greater potential from your employees. 

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