Smarter Collaboration



Book Title:  Smarter Collaboration: A New Approach to Breaking Down Barriers and Transforming Work
Author: Heidi Gardner + Ivan Matviak
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
List Price: $30
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication Date: 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64782-274-3
Reviewer: Kevin Darbelnet, PMP
Review Date: December 2022



Heidi Gardner is a distinguished fellow at Harvard Law School and a former McKinsey consultant. She is an expert on collaboration and was named Thinkers50 as a Next Generation Business Guru. She collaborates on this book with Ivan Matviak who is a senior executive in the global financial services. He’s also an advisor to private equity firms and Bain Consultant.

This book is a collaboration with these two recognized leaders and looks to highlight how to break down barriers in effective collaboration in effort to transform work and build Smarter Collaboration capabilities.

Overview of Book’s Structure:

This book is an easy read focused on improving collaboration effectiveness by bringing forward practical implementation tools and that are supported with useful industry use-cases.

4 Key Parts

  • The Case For Smarter Collaboration
  • Assessing Your Collaboration Starting Point
  • How-To’s and Use Cases for a Smarter Collaboration
  • Troubleshooting Collaboration Challenges

The use case examples focus on M&A, Industry Sector lens and Outside partners. There is a slight tilt towards professional service firms in a number of examples, but the context is still translatable across industries including manufacturing


The first part of the book builds the case for the importance of collaboration as an enabler of improved business performance. Many organizations today recognize the importance of collaboration in delivering their strategic goals and annual business results, but many are struggling with over-collaboration or ineffective collaboration across business units, functions and project teams.

In part 2, the book proceeds to help you determine your company’s collaboration performance baseline with practical diagnostic approach. The importance of enterprise-wide collaboration both internally but also externally is highlighted here along with the assessment of team and individual level collaboration performance drivers.

With an understanding of the baseline and the opportunities, part three shares useful How To’s and various use cases for smarter collaboration. In this part of the book there is a focus on the “Who” and the “How” of Smarter Collaboration and includes focused chapters on enhancing collaboration through hiring and M&A, through outside partnerships and through a sector lens. Chapter 6 (Paying People to Collaborate) presents an interesting three-part system on how to build smarter collaboration into an organization’s performance management program and help organizations bring improved alignment to company strategic priorities including collaboration as an enabler.


To read entire Book Review, click here

How to cite this review: Darbelnet, K. (2023).  Smarter Collaboration, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue III, March. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/pmwj127-Mar2023-Darbelnet-Smarter-Collaboration-Book-Review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Kevin Darbelnet

North Texas, USA


 Kevin Darbelnet is a former Director of R&D for Nestle Waters where he spent over 17 years accelerating large industrial scale projects. He is a seasoned project leader with a track record of designing highly automated manufacturing facilities, both greenfield and brownfield projects to support a fast-growing business. He also led and delivered a large portfolio of new product innovation projects as he oversaw the Innovation Program as the company transitioned to private equity ownership as BlueTriton Brands. His experience includes leading or supporting re-organizations and capability investments projects as well as Merger & Acquisition initiatives. He has been a passionate advocate for a disciplined yet streamlined approach to project management in support of strategy and transformation execution.

Kevin can be contacted at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-darbelnet/

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