Collaboration vs Cooperation - what is the difference
Collaboration vs Cooperation - two terms which are largely used interchangeably but differ fundamentally. Read more about the difference with examples.
It often happens that the two words, cooperation and collaboration get mixed up and are used to talk about the same thing. However, there is a difference in these two terms. Though these could often be confused to define the same thing, the fact that they actually imply different things will be made clear with the help of the examples given in the following. We will see in detail how cooperation vs collaboration differ and also the places where they could be used to mean the same thing, focusing in particular on how it happens in a remote work setting.
The Cambridge English dictionary puts these two words in a vastly similar set of words. Cooperation is given as 'the act of working together with someone or doing what they ask you.' Collaboration, on the other hand is given as 'the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.' It is tough making sense of where the two differ since they have a similar use of words. We will try a simpler approach to this.
What is the difference between cooperation and collaboration?
Consider the goal and the steps taken to achieve it. Here, in any team, you will follow a set of steps, have shared resources, and also share info with your team members. This does not mean that you are working for the exact same thing. It simply means that you have to work in the same setting and get to your own goal. On the other hand, there will be a smaller group or a team with whom you have to achieve the same goal and complete the exact same task. This is to a large extent because the project you are working on is the same and the task has to be achieved as a team. With this understanding of the process and the goal, we will see in detail the differences between cooperation and collaboration.
What is the meaning of Cooperation?
This is the process. The steps you take to get to your own goal and how you work with the rest of the people in your office comes under this. For example, you might want to print a copy of an important document. For this, you will ask a member also in your office if the printer is available. Then you will go and stand beside the printer and if it's in use by another person, you will wait for the person to finish. You are here cooperating with this person. Shared tools and ideas, but not a common goal. In a way, cooperation can be thought of as 'putting up.'
What is the meaing of Collaboration?
This is the result. When you work with people in your design team and all put together ideas, that is collaboration. The team works towards getting the same project done. A combination of ideas given by various members of the team. Every member has a role in this. This is more in line with the words 'working with.' Collaboration is of various forms. While we talk about giving ideas for a particular thing, this can be simply communicating, too. Even talking about the work on a particular project will count as collaborating.
What is the importance of good collaboration and cooperation practises?
When working remotely, you are very dependent on the team for every bit of info. And given the team not being colocated, it is often a task to get anything you may need. To get the best out of this, your team needs to have a good set of collaboration practices in place. At an individual level, you would have to cooperate with the members of your team for the use of resources.
Consider document collaboration for example. You and a teammate may be working on the same doc. There are tools that could make this simpler, but you would also have to understand each other's work. It will then avoid all sort of rework and other errors. Constant coordination between the two of you is a must.
Your team's leader is responsible to plan good cooperation and collaboration practices. Form the team in a way that the coordination between the members is smooth. This cooperation is necessary for easy and efficient functioning of the team.
Does the above take on collaboration vs communication make sense? Do let us know your suggestions. Also, check out our other blogs:
- 7 norms of collaboration
- Relationship building activities
- Harnessing a team oriented mindset
- Cross-team collaboration