Extract of recent INSEAD research conducted by Geert Vercaeren on “the effectiveness of using projective drawings in an intervention to improve inter-group collaboration.”
The reality of inter-group collaboration … and why it matters?
In organizations I worked for and consulted over the past 20 years, I experienced the challenges of collaboration and daily struggles to get rid of silo-working and silo-mentality. Inter-group collaboration is often ineffective. It does not create the intended results and even destroys company value. Efforts to get rid of silo-working and silo-mentality often fail.
Missed client opportunities, mistakes, delay, waste of time due to conflict, wrong decisions, lack of shared learning are examples of cost drivers of this ineffectiveness.
Research focusing on the evolution of organization of work indicates an increase in models like meta-organizations, new eco-systems, “recombinant collaboration”, more horizontal organizations. These emerging models are based on the critical foundation of effective collaboration.
Why do initiatives to improve collaboration often fail?
Although the start of a collaboration can be conscious and rational, the process is often influenced by hidden, emotional and unconscious motives and dynamics.
Often interventions to improve collaboration do not tackle the root cause of the dysfunctional behavior but simply fix its manifestations. Challenges related to inter-group collaboration are often treated as solely as technical challenges that can be resolved through the application of authoritative expertise, structures and procedures. In this case the adaptive challenge perspective – addressing the challenge through changes in people’s priorities, beliefs, habits, loyalties and which requires learning in the process of problem definition and solution – is not considered.
When a more adaptive perspective is taken, the focus is often solely on interpersonal dynamics and interventions like team-building sessions, which often create artificial bonds. Increase in co-operation between those departments by creation of one or several teams composed of people from different departments is another naive belief which often exists. A systems psychodynamic perspective is often lacking, an approach that continually sorts out whether what is said or done plays at individual, interpersonal, group, inter-group level and at what systemic level(s) interventions must be directed.
Research aim and objective
This study takes a novel perspective by combining the use of projective drawings in the complex context inter-group collaboration. The aim is to explore the effectiveness of using projective drawings in interventions to improve inter-group collaboration.
Underlying research questions are: Does the use of drawings, contributes to :
- the discovery of socio-analytic map of the collaborative?
- the development of working hypotheses on interpersonal and inter-group dynamics and relations in the collaborative?
- the creation of an engaging, transitional space to improve the collaboration?
By this thesis, I want to contribute to the further development of approaches to improve inter-group collaboration. My ultimate goal is to increase the success rate of newly set-up collaboratives and interventions to improve inter-group collaboration by taking a socio-technical, systems psychodynamic perspective on this adaptive challenge.
The arise of the concept “Collaboration-in-the mind”
Through conducting the research process, a new concept has been developed. The socio-analytic maps which emerged, show what individuals and teams perceive in their head of how relations and activities are organized, connected and structured in the collaborative. I call this new concept “Collaboration-in-the mind”. It is based on the idea of Armstrong’s “Organization-in-the mind” but specific to the context of a collaborative.
Individuals and teams have in their mind a representation of the collaborative which relies on the inner experiences of people in the collaborative. Actors in a collaborative create a subjective, emotional reality, perceptions of the collaboration, and build up self-constructed images of each other. These perceptions, mental representations might give rise to thoughts, images, emotions, values which might influence individual or group behavior facilitating or impeding the productivity of the mutual relationships and effectiveness of collaborative task performance overall. “Collaboration-in-the mind” includes internal mental representation of the own groups in a collaborative (perception of self), inter-group projections (perception of the other group) and inter-group introjections (perception of how the other group might see themselves).
Inter-group collaboration is often ineffective and a highly complex phenomenon. Although the start of a collaboration can be conscious and rational, the process is often influenced by hidden, emotional and unconscious motives and dynamics. Exploring and understanding the socio-analytic map of the collaborative and interpersonal and inter-group dynamics is mostly underexposed or forgotten in improvement intervention, with failure as result.
Existing research on projective drawings shows that using drawings is a powerful tool in the socio-analytic explorations. This study takes a novel perspective by combining the use of projective drawings in the complex context of inter-group collaboration. The aim is to explore the effectiveness of using projective drawings in interventions to improve inter-group collaboration.
The approach taken is based on conducting an intervention in a case and combines qualitative research approaches like action research, Interpretative phenomenological analysis and abduction.
The effectiveness of using projective drawings in an intervention is analyzed and discussed from 3 angles: (1) discovery of the socio-analytic map, (2) development of working hypotheses on interpersonal and inter-group dynamics and relations, and (3) creation of an engaging, transitional space to improve the collaboration.
Overall, this study confirms the power, capacity and potential value of using drawings in the complex context of improving inter-group collaboration… a support in the journey of discovery, abduction and transition.
INSEAD research: Vercaeren, G. (2016). A study on the effectiveness of using projective drawings in an intervention to improve inter-group collaboration: a journey of discovery, abduction and transition (Thesis Executive Master in Coaching and Consulting for Change). INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.