These days the term collaboration has become synonymous with organizational culture, creativity, innovation, increased productivity, and success.
Let’s look at the COVID-19 pandemic as an example. At the peak of the crisis, several companies instructed their workers to adopt remote working as a health and safety precautionary measure.
Two years into the pandemic, they are now asking their employees back to the office full time or are planning to adopt a hybrid model.
The need to preserve our collaborative culture and accelerate innovation are two of the top benefits being cited by organizational and team leaders for bringing workers back.
Collaboration is indeed essential for the achievement of team goals, functional objectives, and the overall success of the organization.
Today’s breakthrough innovations are emerging from many interacting teams and collaborative relationships.
When teams, functions, and organizations collaborate, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; group genius emerges, and creativity unfolds.
But, what makes a successful collaboration? What are the key enabling conditions?
- It extends beyond the boundaries of the organization. Business success is a function of internal and external relationships. Instead of viewing your business in vacuo, understand that you are part of an ecosystem. External to your organization, who do you need to partner with to enhance your value creation processes, achieve/exceed your objectives, or successfully execute your strategy?
- Ensure the objectives are clear and there is shared understanding by everyone. Unclear objectives are one of the topmost barriers to team and organizational performance.
- Foster a culture that encourages opinions and ideas that challenge the consensus. People should feel free to share their ideas and not hold back for fear of others penalizing them or thinking less of them. Collaboration is hindered when one or two people dominate the discussion, are arrogant, or don’t think they can learn anything from others.
- Groups perform more effective under certain circumstances, and less effective under others. There is a tendency to fixate on certain topics of discussion amongst groups which often leaves members distracted from their ideas. To reduce the negative effects of topic fixation, members of the group should be given periods to work alone and switch constantly between individual activity and group interaction.
- Effective collaboration can happen if the people involved come from diverse backgrounds and possess complementary skills to prevent conformity. The best collective decisions or creative ideas are often a product of different bodies of knowledge, multiple opinions, disagreement, and divergent thought processes, not consensus or compromise.
- New technologies are making collaboration easier than ever, enabling us to increase our reach and broaden our network. Although new technology helps, it will not make your organization collaborative without the right culture and values in place. First, define what you want to achieve through collaboration then use these tools to promote creative collaboration.
How else are you championing collaboration within your organization to create value and succeed?