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Efficient sharing of informational, social, and personal resources should also be a prerequisite for positive reviews, promotions, and pay raises. At one investment bank, employees’ annual performance reviews include feedback from a diverse group of colleagues, and only those people who are rated as strong collaborators (that is, able to cross-sell and provide unique customer value to transactions) are considered for the best promotions, bonuses, and retention plans. Corning, the glass and ceramics manufacturer, uses similar metrics to decide which of its scientists and engineers will be named fellows—a high honor that guarantees a job and a lab for life. One criterion is to be the first author on a patent that generates at least $100 million in revenue. But another is whether the candidate has worked as a supporting author on colleagues’ patents. Corning grants status and power to those who strike a healthy balance between individual accomplishment and collaborative contribution. (Disclosure: Adam Grant has done consulting work for Corning.)

Collaboration is indeed the answer to many of today’s most pressing business challenges. But more isn’t always better. Leaders must learn to recognize, promote, and efficiently distribute the right kinds of collaborative work, or their teams and top talent will bear the costs of too much demand for too little supply. In fact, we believe that the time may have come for organizations to hire chief collaboration officers. By creating a senior executive position dedicated to collaboration, leaders can send a clear signal about the importance of managing teamwork thoughtfully and provide the resources necessary to do it effectively. That might reduce the odds that the whole becomes far less than the sum of its parts.

A version of this article appeared in the January–February 2016 issue (pp.74–79) of .

Rob Cross is the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Leadership at Babson Collegeand a coauthor of (Harvard Business Review Press, 2004).

Reb Rebele is a researcher for Wharton People Analytics and teaches in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Adam Grant is a professor at Wharton and the author of Originals and Give and Take .

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27 COMMENTS

Yes, a great article. I also like this part: 'A well-known consultancy had recommended retention bonuses for leaders.'. This is just one of the trite and worn-out 'HR' remedies for anything. There is little creativity or appetite for change (let alone creativity) in using high-tech methodologies such as network analysis. Like anything, this methods solution needs to be done properly. Apart from one conference, I have never actually seen anyone (apart from myself) using this sort of methodology. More often than not, it's a boring survey (which of course are vital if done properly - I think too many think it's just a bunch of questions, but such is the case now, that there is much negative writing about the 'survey' as an instrument of diagnosis and change). In my dealings with all sorts of people in various situations, people do not want to collaborate - it is as if the ego is strongly at work. Many do not want to do any 'diagnosis' ('OD' = training, for example), and if it is done, it is done poorly. More often than not, someone who has a large ego, big voice and who people don't like to challenge, come up with the 'bonus' or some other daft idea which has no bearing on the problem in the first place. I see though that too much collaboration is problem. This needs to be facilitated properly (and no, I don't mean feacilitator=training). Note the terminologies used here - don't get me started!

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Accelerating software innovation through trustworthy experimentation

The Experimentation Platform was a project headed by Ronny Kohavi from 2006. It went live in 2007 and the team was merged into Bing in 10/2010.Starting March 2014, the mission is back as part of the Artificial Intelligence and Research group:Ronny Kohavi is the General Managerfor the Analysis Experimentation team.

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The Surprising Power of Online Experiments: Getting the most out of A/B and other controlled tests Ron Kohavi and Stefan Thomke

In HBR Sept-Oct 2017

Today, Microsoft and several other leading companies—including Amazon, Booking.com, Facebook, and Google—each conduct more than 10,000 online controlled experiments annually, with many tests engaging millions of users...These organizations have discovered that an “experiment with everything” approach has surprisingly large payoffs. It has helped Bing, for instance, identify dozens of revenue-related changes to make each month—improvements that have collectively increased revenue per search by 10% to 25% each year. These enhancements, along with hundreds of other changes per month that increase user satisfaction, are the major reason that Bing is profitable and that its share of U.S. searches conducted on personal computers has risen to 23%, up from 8% in 2009, the year it was launched. At a time when the web is vital to almost all businesses, rigorous online experiments should be standard operating procedure. If a company develops the software infrastructure and organizational skills to conduct them, it will be able to assess not only ideas for websites but also potential business models, strategies, products, services, and marketing campaigns—all relatively inexpensively. Controlled experiments can transform decision making into a scientific, evidence-driven process—rather than an intuitive reaction. Without them, many breakthroughs might never happen, and many bad ideas would be implemented, only to fail, wasting resources.

The Benefits of Controlled Experimentation at Scale ( slides )Aleksander Fabijan, Pavel Dmitriev, HelenaHolmström Olsson, Jan Bosch.SEAA 2017

Online controlled experiments (for example A/B tests) are increasingly being performed to guide product development and accelerate innovation in online software product companies. The benefits of controlled experiments have been shown in many cases with incremental product improvement as the objective. In this paper, we demonstrate that the value of controlled experimentation at scale extends beyond this recognized scenario. Based on an exhaustive and collaborative case study in a large software-intensive company with highly developed experimentation culture, we inductively derive the benefits of controlled experimentation. The contribution of our paper is twofold. First, we present a comprehensive list of benefits and illustrate our findings with five case examples of controlled experiments conducted at Microsoft. Second, we provide guidance on how to achieve each of the benefits. With our work, we aim to provide practitioners in the online domain with knowledge on how to use controlled experimentation to maximize the benefits on the portfolio, product and team level.

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