Gravity is one of the most pervasive forces in the universe. Physicists classify it among the most unique phenomena ever discovered, essential to shaping planets, stars, and solar systems. We recognize the impact of gravity everywhere—its pull on water coursing through riverbeds, its mastery of the wind whistling across sheer mountain slopes, and its ability to hold buildings, cars, and people on Earth’s surface.
Gravity’s more subtle properties, however, have caused it to be less studied. Gravity is relatively less understood by the scientific community than other forces.1 When compared with the awesome power of fission, vividly demonstrated in an atomic bomb or an exploding star, gravity works softly, and with a more velvet hand.
Collaboration has shared a similar fate. Like gravity, collaboration is a pervasive force. It lies at the heart of what uniquely shapes teams and organizations. It connects people to the vast power of their own knowledge and shines a light on the purpose of their work and their lives. Collaboration holds the power to link teams with diverse skills and traits, urging them to come together in an aligned way and yielding breakthroughs that can impact hundreds—even millions—of people.
Yet collaboration as a business force remains less visible than others dominating today’s headlines. It feels less tangible than gyrations in stock or bond prices, less sexy than deals hammered out in a corporate merger. It doesn’t rivet ...