When we hear the statement, “we need to improve teamwork,” it generally means “we need to collaborate better.”
Collaboration occurs when individuals work together toward a common purpose in order to achieve a specific result.
Benefits of collaboration include faster innovation, more efficient use of resources, increased speed and quality of decisions, capability development and enhanced relationships. Plus, collaboration done well is extremely rewarding personally.
Effective Collaboration Tips:
• Be smart – co-create a unifying common purpose that elevates the collaborators above the initial hurdles. Build on strengths and maintain a win-win mindset which achieves benefits for all involved.
• Be selective – it matters who is part of the collaboration. Select participants based not only on their potential contribution but also on their capability and willingness to collaborate.
• Be clear – It is essential that everyone who is part of the collaboration process know their common purpose. What is the problem being solved or the decision being made? What is the outcome that must be achieved? If collaborators have different understanding about the common purpose then they work at cross-purposes and destroy the power of collaboration. Create clear, unifying goals.
• Be open – sharing information makes collaboration successful. Holding back robs the process and may impact the end result. Collaboration often means more work; more coordination, more emails, more egos, and more cat-herding. However, stay open to the process and contribute your best in service of the common goal.
• Be tech savvy – Use technology wisely. Despite the claims of many “collaboration platforms,” it’s the people that do the collaborating not the tool. If the foundational people pieces are not in place, technology only makes bad things happen faster! Leverage technology in support of the collaboration process; don’t assume that technology automatically creates collaboration.
Collaboration done well enables you to work smarter, not harder. A great resource on the topic is Collaboration by Morten Hansen.