Is there a paradox here, or are collaboration and autonomy complementary?
On one hand we are seeking to encourage collaboration to engage everyone and maximise chances of optimum thinking to occur, whilst usually discounting the potential for “groupthink”. On the other hand we see the value of the autonomy of the individual as a means to provide the intrinsic motivation for them to do their best, to stretch themselves.
It seems to me after 30 years of being engaged, and observing this paradox at first hand that there are a couple of perspectives:
# If you can navigate the short term tensions and difficulties to build successful collaboration, it becomes a long term strength, and despite the ever present short term tensions, if they are managed as debates, no matter how heated, that are based on facts rather than emotion, you can achieve both collaboration and personal autonomy.
# People in an industry develop a way of conceptualising the industry and their place in it, both as an individual and as a collaborative group. The key to growth is being able to redefine the prevailing view, and successfully chase success in the evolving industry.
In the week after Steve Jobs’ death, with all the eulogies being written, the central core of his success was just such an ability to redefine an industry and successfully lead the changes. On the other hand, the once great Kodak invented digital photography, and did not see the value given their view of the photographic industry, Nokia the runaway mobile phone leader 10 years ago is now struggling for relevance, and it took a radical forced restructure of the “big Three” in Detroit before they recognised that their view of the auto industry was not consistent with the desires of their customers.
Kodak, Nokia, and the Detroit three all lacked a leader capable of redefining the industry view held by their businesses, and paid the price for that failure.