What does it take to make collaboration work within organizations?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the blog of Dave Wendland, VP, strategic relations at Hamacher Resource Group. The article first appeared on Forbes.com.
Countless articles and studies have been published that endorse the concept of collaboration-friendly environments to move business goals forward. But it seems that a gap remains in effectively moving a team toward execution.
According to research shared by Queens University of Charlotte, “Thirty-nine percent of surveyed employees worldwide say people in their organization don’t collaborate enough.”
The following are four key components that guide purpose-driven collaboration.
- Diversity: Filling a room with like-minded individuals seldom inspires new thinking. The very essence of debate and discussion requires healthy discord. It is through such friendly conflict and differing opinions that a more comprehensive — and often decidedly better — solution can emerge. Welcome all comments and suggestions. Then strive to accept all suggestions openly and actually like them. In other words, listen with understanding, and constructively contribute to shaping the idea.
- Equality: In organizations where one individual controls the entire outcome and therefore is the lynchpin in all decisions, true collaboration is seldom successful. Unity and self-empowerment will likely be stifled. Each idea presented — and every individual attending the collaborative exercise — must be given equal weight. A judgment-free zone without fear or repercussions must be created. Bringing a team together only to implement a class system is counterproductive, demoralizing and ineffective.
- Energy: Collaborations often require physical activities — whiteboard or sticky note exercises, small group discussions or standing for a bit of stretching. Without interaction included as part of the group’s collaboration, the same result might be generated through an email exchange. I believe the difference is emotional involvement. In a group meeting, emotional engagement invariably occurs, which typically produces a highly motivated and driven team.
- Mobilization: Who among the group will be held accountable for which identified activities? What is the time frame for the completion of activities? When will the group reconvene or be informed of progress? How will the newly developed plans make a difference within the organization or externally as they affect customers or partners? Collaboration without an action plan is merely a conversation.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which of the four components for encouraging collaboration mentioned in the article do you think is most critical? Which is most often under-utilized? Would you add any other suggestions?