Cooperation, Coordination, Collaboration [Keast]

Collaborating & Connecting: Different Modes by Robyn Keast

Cooperation, coordination and collaboration are terms that are often times used interchangeably to describe the way people work together.

In fact, if you’ll Google these terms (like I did), you’re likely to find contradicting and overlapping definitions.

Interestingly, our friends in the government and non-profits sectors seem to have done the most thoughtful work around coming up with consistent and distinct definitions for these terms. While the original context is aiming to define the way organizations can work together, tweaking the definitions to apply for a more personal context is pretty straight forward.

I in my (re?)search, I came across two useful definitions. The most useful one is the one provided by Robyn Keast and captured in the image above. Keast explains the difference between the three terms by calling out changes across several attributes / dimensions: connection and trust, communication and information sharing, goals, resources, power, commitment and accountability, relational timeframe and risk/reward. All of which, are just as relevant in a more personal context.

The second useful definition is the one provided by Collaboration for Impact and captured in this diagram:

To an extent, it’s a consistent, but zoomed out view of Keast’s definition, putting cooperation, coordination and collaboration on a broader spectrum. The pithy descriptions make it easier to get the big picture and key differences but some of the nuances are lost.

Hope you find these as useful as I have.