Doing It Together To Do It BetterJune 08, 2011 | By Kevin Cray
“Collaboration is a process, not an event” (Adam Richardson, blogger, Harvard Business Review). The importance of collaboration is for the advancement of collective knowledge; the collective source from which to pull ideas and meet like minds creates opportunities that would not otherwise exist. This source is constantly in evolution and must be fed by active contributions in order to remain alive. Collaboration is pivotal for every team, and it is more than an exercise—it is a state of being. It is the lifeblood of your organization that determines if and how the very existence of your firm will perpetuate.
There are many layers to the collaborative pulse, and they involve the dual nature of any company: the internal and external spaces.
A team is very similar to the gears in a clock; there is solid performance when all of the gears are working together. If one gear is out of sync, the entire clock will not work properly. If your firm doesn’t understand the importance of communicating, you are going to hit dead ends and waste valuable time. A simple 10 minute conversation with co-workers around next strategic steps for a project can create momentum that pushes the team forward.
Internal collaboration is one of the more obvious types of collaboration, simply because your fellow teammates interact with you more frequently. Thinking more broadly, reaching outside of your firm towards external sources of opportunity expands your range of work creation. This type of external collaboration involves connecting with outside resources to become better educated about a prospective client and the potential project. Based off the detailed knowledge you uncover, you may possibly choose to partner with an outside firm in order to more comprehensively satisfy the needs of project. Together, your services can create a more impactful solution for the client and increase your chances of being selected.
Keys to successful collaboration:
- Create a workplace that stimulates a collaborative atmosphere. Minimize the use of cubicles and use group meeting areas more frequently; this will encourage more fluid discussions.
2 Shape the path for collaboration
- Model the behavior you want to see. Leadership always sets the tone of what is acceptable in a group; if the team see leadership communicating in participative and inclusionary ways, then everyone else will follow suit.
3 Use industry-related associations to your benefit
- Associations can be a big lead creator for your business; however you need to learn to do it in a productive manner.
- Don’t go alone; bring someone along to get their input as well.
- If you can divide and conquer the room you can get more in-depth in the conversations.
- If you can, research the guest list beforehand so can clue into who will be attending.
- Based off your findings, you can formulate a more authentic approach to connecting with select guests; this genuine outreach will be more striking than just handing them a business card.
4 Use social media (LinkedIn and Twitter) to your advantage
- It’s not just about having an account, it’s about knowing how to use it. For example, LinkedIn is the one of the most powerful business networks out there. Learn how to effectively search for particular data and how to use your “connections” in a productive way.
- Twitter is a great way to gather niche-industry information. Follow active people, and you will be amazed at the information that gets posted and how it can affect your company strategy.
5 Technical Tools for Teams
- Tools like Basecamp, GoToMeeting, Box.net and Microsoft SharePoint are a few tools out in the market the enable collaboration. Most of them have free 30-day trials, so experiment with them to see what works best for your team.
- These technical tools facilitate internal collaboration by providing one collective place for teams to share information and contribute ideas.
Participating in collaboration together creates a team-driven atmosphere where everyone can benefit from the results because everyone had stake in the outcomes.