The difference between collaboration and clobberation

Seal colony sez: you can't force the true collaboration, yo!

Seal colony sez: you can't force true collaboration, yo!

Picture this: You are sitting in a meeting, and someone from another department is beating you up because you won’t go along their vision. They’ve never asked your for your opinion, they didn’t involve you in their process, and now you are sitting there getting railed because you are not sure what they are pushing is the right thing to do.

And then it comes. You get accused of not being collaborative.

You were just a victim of clobberation.

Clobberation [klob-uh-reh-shun] (n)

The art of beating someone into submission under the guise of collaboration.

I first heard this term from my friend Todd Barr a few years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Especially for us open source folks, who think of true collaboration as something almost holy, getting clobberated is really, really painful. And the hard part? It is sometimes difficult to articulate how someone clobberated you, but you almost always know it when you feel it. You feel anxious, cheated, even guilty.

So what’s an honest collaborator to do?

First, recognize true collaboration when you see it.

Wikipedia defines collaboration as “a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals…”

Don’t let them fool you. If someone is really being collaborative, they will want to work with you to understand your goals, to understand how you fit in, to hear your ideas just as much as they want to achieve their own goals. They will want you both to succeed.

True collaboration requires humility. It requires listening. It also requires willingness by both parties to compromise. And most importantly, it requires a shared vision for success.

If these factors are not in place, you do not have a solid foundation for real collaboration.

And if you are wondering why people don’t want to collaborate with you, consider asking yourself if you are the clobberator. If you are in the habit of always trying to get others to paint your fences for you, you are a clobberator. If you find the ideas of others to rarely be as good as your own, you are a clobberator.

If this is you, stop it. Repent. Become a true collaborator. Get involved in communities rather than always having to be at the center of them.

Do you have an example of a time when you got clobberated? I’d love to hear it.

About Chris Grams

Chris Grams is Head of Marketing at Tidelift. He is also the author of The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Successful Brand Positioning in a Digital World.


2 thoughts on “The difference between collaboration and clobberation

  1. Nicely done. ‘Old’ style marketing talked to audiences; today, you engage with communities. Oh, and tell Todd he missed the boat– I just TM’d CLOBBERATION… CLOBBERATIONtm, that is.

    Posted by Burney | September 23, 2009, 4:47 pm


  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for The difference between collaboration and clobberation « Dark Matter Matters [] on - September 24, 2009

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