Collaboration is the key to unlocking knowledge and skills held by your workforce.
Think of a situation where you have a significant project coming up and you need to form a team comprising staff from a recently acquired business, plus existing employees and also representatives from a customer and original equipment supplier. This group of disparate personnel need to be able to come together in a shared place, with an ability to contribute equally on the basis that everyone has something of value to bring to the project.
Building a collaborative environment is the first step to achieving outcomes where all stakeholders have an opportunity to contribute knowledge and/or skills, to review and to become more informed as a result of the collective capability the group as a whole possesses.
So how should you go about creating an environment that can be collaborative? What do you need to know about the organisation before designing the collaboration framework? For example will the CEO support the concept? Does the executive team need to call in a collaboration expert to help find out the current culture and to determine what, if any obstacles may be in the way?
Collaboration as a way of bringing teams together, either locally or from disparate disciplines or remote regional locations with the aim of producing an outcome that will benefit the organisation as a whole.
How then might we look at ways of developing a collaboration framework?
- Understand the current environment.
One-on-one interviews, small group workshops, and other means of understanding the current state of collaboration at your organisation. Representative individuals and groups can be selected to participate in this information gathering stage. A careful balance is maintained between exploring opportunities seen by the participants, and seeding aligned improvement ideas in order to assess ongoing commitment to bring about change.
- Create a strategy that works for the organisation.
Included in this process is understanding what the business drivers are, and how the organisation wants to evolve. Undertake a deep dive of work habits people and teams use in order to ascertain how a collaboration framework may be implemented. Identify what areas of the organisation may be immediately conducive to adopting a collaboration approach and seek out those individuals who already display a dispensation towards working collaboratively.
- Develop a collaborative attitude.
First and foremost working collaboratively must be centred on outcomes being achieved in a faster, more informed, more balanced approach than traditional decision making processes.
Second, an acknowledgement that collaboration is built on teamwork.
Third, the fostering of a positive collective attitude.
Fourth, an environment where access to knowledge, skills and information is equally available to everyone.
- Pilot the concept.
As the implementation of a collaboration framework can be intimidating to some people within an organisation I usually recommend that it be implemented judiciously, in a way that enables the organisation to gauge its effectiveness, before committing to an all encompassing roll-out. It is common for areas of the business to stand out as early candidates.
- Invest in technology.
Technology must not be seen as a panacea for the inability of an organisation to bring about change collaboratively, however much of the way that collaboration in the digital age delivers results is via the use of technology to support outcomes where change has made traditional methods slow, cumbersome and outdated. Great technology solutions are available from IBM, Microsoft, Jive, SocialCast, SocialText and others. An important consideration before this step is taken is the ability of the software platform to integrate with technology already in use.
Using the above process it is distinctly possible to build and thrive with a collaboration framework. The digital age relies on the effective use of people centric processes. Enterprise social networks have grown on the back of the digital age and very well support the concept of collaboration.
If you need to find ways of producing an atmosphere of collaboration please reach out to me.