December 2021
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TD Magazine

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Beyond Collaboration Overload: How to Work Smarter, Get Ahead, and Restore Your Well-Being
By Rob Cross
Harvard Business Review Press, 256 pp., $30

In this book, the author tackles the subject of inefficient collaboration: why people are drowning in it and the toll it's taking on their health and well-being. The premise that relationships are essential to human well-being and getting work done is not new. However, many of us believe more collaboration is better to bring about results. Not so, says Cross.

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For example, did you know that by reducing your collaboration overload, you can reclaim 18–24 percent of your time? That equates to about one full day per week. Based on evidence from qualitative and quantitative studies, Cross aims to convince readers that they really do need—and should want—to escape from overload. In the book, he points out the rewards of taking back one day a week and how reinvesting that time in essential collaboration vastly outweighs the satisfaction of extreme busyness. He ties everything back to how to give the most value, not necessarily provide the most time.

Cross also shows readers how to rethink beliefs, structures, and behaviors and adopt new patterns of interacting to collaborate more efficiently and effectively. He does that by sharing actionable insights and recommendations for improving collaboration throughout the workday. The care and attention he brings to well-being adds a personal and empathetic flair to the book. Readers can assess their situations against the examples and data he presents to connect with others.

From case studies that provide valuable insights to best practices on implementing better process norms around how individuals use the range of collaborative tools at their disposal, Cross outlines a way to escape collaboration overload and create a path toward the ultimate goal of well-being.

Whether you are a frontline manager looking to help your team work smarter rather than harder, an individual contributor wanting to provide more value, or a senior leader desiring to create a high-performing culture, this book has helpful information you can leverage and implement immediately.

About the Author

Jennifer Zach is a coach, thought leader, and believer in human potential. She is the first in her field to combine coaching with modern learning. Zach takes a whole-person approach by incorporating somatics into her work with clients to help them reflect, navigate change and challenges with wisdom and discernment, and enjoy life and work.

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