You’ve likely heard a lot about collaboration lately. Collaboration is now considered an integral part of corporate innovation and success. According to this study by IBM, the CEOs of top companies all give collaboration skills top billing for driving firms’ achievements:
“CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (75 percent), communication (67 percent), creativity (61 percent) and flexibility (61 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.”
Choosing a “Collaborative Architecture”
But what trips up a lot of companies’ leadership is not whether they should create a collaborative environment, but how to do it. According to this Harvard Business Review article, companies are often in such a rush to implement collaboration that little, if any, thought is put into the nuts and bolts:
“All too often firms jump into relationships without considering their structure and organizing principles—what we call the collaborative architecture,” write article authors Gary Pisano and Roberto Verganti. They’ve come up with a method to identify the best strategy for your company, which begins with these key questions:
“Given your strategy, how open or closed should your firm’s network of collaborators be? And who should decide which problems the network will tackle and which solutions will be adopted?”
To help you create such a structure, here are some tips to create a healthy and productive collaboration project.
7 Tips to Help Build a Better Collaboration:
- Move from individual idea-generation to a group, and then back to solo work.
- Mix virtual and in-person meetings, if possible, and use a variety of methods that will give attendees visuals and important cues, like body language.
- Create a great physical space that’s comfortable, encourages participation and fosters great ideas.
- Keep your supporting documents and files organized.
- Use a mix of technologies to create a virtual collaboration environment, including integrating mobile components to adapt to the increase in mobile application use.
- Keep collaboration groups small and fix a beginning and an end to a collaboration project to avoid overwhelming participants and scope creep.
- Create collaboration events, like 3M does for its employees from different divisions to get innovation happening.
Choose Your Tools Wisely:
- Online: You can look to a product that designed for collaboration, like 37Signals Basecamp or Teambox. As the value of collaboration has become more recognized, the amount of programs designed for collaborative projects has kept pace, so test drive a few to find the best fit.
- Video: Video conferencing technology has improved to the point that great visuals, complex data, and real-time performance mean long distance collaborations are no longer second rank to in-person meetings.
- Social: Take a look at WebEx Social, which is a social network for corporations. Some companies are exploring ways to use Pinterest, which now has business accounts, and Google can be a good tool as well.
- In-person: Maybe you agree with Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer that physical presence leads to better ideas, in which case create areas around your office that will foster exchange. Google likes communal areas, as does Etsy, because cubicles kill creativity.
Interested in learning more about how your company can collaborate its way to success? Contact IVCi to discuss the best collaboration solution for your needs.