During the Student Affairs Council meeting in October we revisited the concept of collaboration. Most of us would say we collaborate with others, but do we really? Merriam-Webster defines collaboration as working jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavor.
So, are we collaborating or merely cooperating? As I reviewed the origins and exact usages of each word, I found that collaboration requires leadership and a shared goal. While cooperation simply involves being helpful, just doing what someone asks of you, or perhaps an agreement to not get in the way or compete with one other. So it seems that while the words are similar, the parties collaborating with one another are much more closely aligned.
Does it even matter whether we are collaborating or cooperating, as long as the work gets done? I guess it depends on your desired end game. I might add that a collaborator is invested, and has passion and drive. Those who are cooperating might hang your posters, but they probably will not talk-up your event. Those who are cooperating might show up to the meeting, but they probably will not offer any new ideas or paradigm-altering insights. Challenge yourself to consider whether you truly collaborated while in that last meeting, or working on that last project, or merely cooperated.
The long-term success of Student Affairs and its ability to carry out excellent services and programs depends on having teams staffed with true collaborators.
Submitted by —
Associate Director, Counseling Services
Any questions or comments? Please send us an email at VPSA@utsa.edu.