Cooperation vs. coordination at the workplace

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Cooperation vs. coordination at the workplace Powered By Docstoc
					Cooperation vs. coordination at the workplace

These are two terms we hear quite often at the workplace and in our day-to-day lives. It
is easy to think of the two synonymously because of the similarity in their nomenclature
and to an extent, the meaning. However, there is a difference, and this difference is more
pronounced in the workplace.


When there is cooperation among team members in an organization; it means that they
work with each other and each has a contribution to make towards attainment of a goal.
They have to not only be in contact with each other; they are also dependent on each
other. Units make up the whole here, and it is necessary for each to cooperate with the
other in order to make the completion of the task possible.


When team members are coordinating with each other, they are carrying out the work
in an orderly and clearly defined fashion. Cooperation is not essential in this case,
because even without cooperation from the other member of the team; work will go on
because each unit of the whole has a defined and neatly charted out work flow and

The two together

One of the best examples put forth in management circles to drive home the difference
between the two is that of the head of the family instructing his wife and sons to polish
his shoes. Each polished the shoe separately, and the result was that the shoe got three
coats of polish. This is a great example of how there was cooperation between the
family members, but no coordination. Each of the three people to whom the task was
assigned cooperated with the head of the family, because none of them refused the job.
This is cooperation, meaning that there was a spirit of bonhomie and affability between
them. There was no conflict because each was clear about what the goal was. However,
the fact that they all ended up polishing the shoe repeatedly shows the lack of
coordination, because the shoe needed one coat of polishing, not three. If each of them
had coordinated with the other, they would have decided that one polish was enough,
and the time the other two spent on this task could have been diverted for something
more purposeful.

Both are equally important

If the above example were to be applied to the workplace, resources will be wasted on
doing the same thing over and over because there is cooperation but no coordination.
On the other hand, if cooperation is lacking, the team members would have spent their
time quarrelling with each other over who should polish the shoes. They would never
have achieved the task of polishing; even if they had resolved their differences and got
down to work, they would not have done it in a timely manner. The organization’s
leadership has to decide how to use these qualities in team management.