A few tips from GSA on the art of collaboration

Collaboration is more than just people talking about a certain subject, GSA chief Martha Johnson says

PHILADELPHIA — Collaboration is much more than a crowd of people talking together about a subject, according to the administrator of the General Services Administration.

“Collaboration is a way of getting to an answer, of getting to a solution, not just networking,” GSA head Martha Johnson said today during a speech at the Management of Change conference here. The conference is hosted by the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council.

Johnson many people misuse the word collaboration when actually they mean participation. Participation is people talking or brainstorming together about a topic. Participation may be about an issue with interested people who rank proposed ideas based on their merits. The public is engaged, but not like collaboration, she said.

“People think they’re collaborating because everybody’s talking,” which isn’t the case, Johnson said. Collaboration requires a few more elements to make it successful, she added.

Collaboration needs the crowd engaged and offering solutions to a particular problem they are trying to solve, like in participation, she said. It also needs a review board to scan through the proposals for fixing the problem, and it needs experts to recognize which solutions have promise.

Gathering together all these elements is tough for people today because it’s new to the community and it’s outside of its comfort zone, she said.

Collaboration fits into the puzzle of President Barack Obama's initiative to make an open government. It goes hand-in-hand with transparency and getting the public engaged.

Johnson said she's revved up about the opportunities for greater collaboration. "I think this is God's work," she said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.