Is it mere coincidence that all three of the comments on the Defining Collaboration post were from guys named Jim? I think not!
Two of the comments wanted to stress that collaboration can (and often does) take place within the context of formal organizational structures and activities. That’s definitely a good point. I didn’t mean to imply in the definition that it didn’t.
What I was trying to distinguish is the difference between the activity of collaboration, which I think of as being free flowing, creative, and non-deterministic, from a traditional command-and-control kind of activity, where someone in authority directs and coordinates the work of others and where repeatable processes are executed in well understood ways.
The reason I want to make that distinction is that I think it’s at least likely that the two different kinds of work require, or at least can best benefit from, different kinds of tools. So while tools like traditional project management software, forms-processing, and workflow engines are good for the hierarchical structured kind of work, tools like wikis and group task lists are perhaps more useful for collaborative activities.
I’ll have to think about how to make that clearer in the definition. Thanks, Jims!