Two of the projects I am presently engaged in are a about collaboratively organizing an event. In both cases the organization is by a handful of volunteers. In both cases, the volunteers have not really worked together before. In both cases, most of the preparations (drafting invitations, promoting the event, logistics, registration, travel, programme, liaising with speakers/participants) are done in a distributed way; over email and online.
The projects are very similar, yet the smoothness and efficiency of the collaboration is very different. For one, the organization is smooth, everybody pulling together like a real team, surprisingly effective without much further ado. For the other, it is harder.
The smooth running event is much more complicated than the other one, both logistically and content wise. Three of us are working most, 4 or 5 closely following and jumping in where necessary, lots of people loosely connected. We are from many different nationalities.
For the harder running event we have had the possibility to meet in real life, the event is simple, we are all from the same country.
What is it that makes collaboration work?
I have many ideas. Most of these don’t hold in the above example. I have no clue.