Sometimes restructuring is done with the intention of solving a collaboration problem. A people don’t talk to B people; if we create a C home for A and B people together, they will talk. However, the new C people look mysteriously as un-collaborative as before.
At the core of this flawed thinking is the idea that structural solutions solve behavioural problems. They hardly do. Structural solutions, such as a reorganization, can indeed be a good enabler of behaviours, even a temporary trigger. But these behaviours have a life of their own, their own mechanisms of reinforcement and sustainability. They need do be addressed on their own merits.
Another way to look at this is to say that the traditional, conventional wisdom sequence of ‘structure creates process and systems, and then behaviours will come as a consequence’, is the problem. The real, forgotten sequence is ‘behaviours sustain (or not) whatever process and systems come from new structures’. Translation: behaviours must (should) be in the system first, not as an afterthought, a by-product.
Translation 2: install behaviours first
It is simply another version of the old ‘we will tackle A, B and C first, then, when done, we will deal with culture’. This way of thinking (culture as the soft byproduct) has been very harmful to management.
So, for example, restructuring for collaboration, when not much collaboration exists, is bound to create lots of anxiety and not much new collaboration.
In behavioural terms, if you see a sequence in which behaviours are last, it is likely to have the wrong thinking behind it. If you start with ‘what kind of behaviours do I need to?’, you are likely to be on the right track.
Hmm… I agree that you can’t, in general, “force” collaboration by re-structuring. But I’ve seen a lot of situations in which structural problems destroy or prevent collaboration that would naturally occur (perhaps with just a bit of encouragement). One clear example is putting teams that should be talking to one another in different buildings or even on different floors a of building. That creates a psychological barrier that cuts down informal communication very dramatically. There aren’t “water coolers” any more, but separate lunch rooms, play areas, and seminar series really cut down on the unplanned encounters which are the seeds of most collaboration. (One of my colleagues advocates slowing down the elevators so that people will talk more while waiting, but our building’s architects already took care of that well enough, thank you.)
Or if you really want to destroy collaboration, set things up as a zero-sum competition for resources between the groups, or praise and reward only team A for some accomplishment in which team B also played an important role. As soon as it is “us against them”, collaboration goes to zero — and look out for small acts of sabotage.
So while you need some behavioral work to CREATE collaboration, you might look first at whether there organization/structural factors that work to PREVENT it.