240. Rob Cross: The Invisible Cost of Dysfunctional Collaboration

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If your company has too many meetings, this week's episode is a must-listen.

Email, Slack, and Zoom are technologies built to make us more productive. But when we use meetings and messages to solve all our problems, it leaves little time to actually get work done.

This is “collaboration overload.” Our guest Rob Cross, who studies this phenomenon, says that collaborative demands on workers have risen 50% in the last decade, yet the enormous cost (time, money, and employee well-being) is often invisible to organizations. “If anything else had increased 50%, a CEO would be all over it,” he says.

But tech tools are not the enemy, Rob explains. The culture and ground rules about their use (which come from the top!) are the culprit. His book, “Beyond Collaboration Overload,” is filled with data and personal interviews to back it up.

In this week's discussion, Rob lays out his extraordinary research showing how not all tasks are equivalent when collaboration is involved, and why our culture of always “jumping in” to solve problems probably makes them worse. He also makes the case for a new executive position — Chief Collaboration Officer — who is responsible for empowering great teamwork, and rooting out dysfunction.

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