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.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by wk1003mike): cloud system fracture.

    Does the IRS have a cloud strategy?

    Congress and watchdog agencies have dinged the IRS for lacking an enterprise cloud strategy seven years after it became the official policy of the U.S. government.

  • Shutterstock image: illuminated connections between devices.

    Who won what in EIS

    The General Services Administration posted detailed data on how the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract might be divvied up.

  • Wikimedia Image: U.S. Cyber Command logo.

    Trump elevates CyberCom to combatant command status

    The White House announced a long-planned move to elevate Cyber Command to the status of a full combatant command.

  • Photo credit: John Roman Images / Shutterstock.com

    Verizon plans FirstNet rival

    Verizon says it will carve a dedicated network out of its extensive national 4G LTE network for first responders, in competition with FirstNet.

  • AI concept art

    Can AI tools replace feds?

    The Heritage Foundation is recommending that hundreds of thousands of federal jobs be replaced by automation as part of a larger government reorganization strategy.

  • DOD Common Access Cards

    DOD pushes toward CAC replacement

    Defense officials hope the Common Access Card's days are numbered as they continue to test new identity management solutions.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group