All law departments extol collaboration. Equally commonly, they bemoan the inadequacies of their internal communication. Are collaboration and communication not the same?
Emphatically not. Communication can be a one-way transmission of information; collaboration could theoretically be completely silent while two or more people work together toward a common end. Communication is a flow of information; collaboration is joint activity with sharing of resources.
In a law department, communication can be a post on the department’s intranet, an e-mail from the general counsel after the Executive Committee meeting, a report on the results of the employee-morale survey, a drive-by office chat. Collaboration could be project teams (See my post of Jan. 4, 2006 about Halliburton’s approach.), practice groups (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005 on communities of interest.), a working group to plan an offsite, or a document discovery planning unit.