Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why collaboration is a must

Today I had a chance to think a bit about why we need to collaborate.  Simply put, we need to collaborate because all of us have unique perspective.  Everyone brings their own background and different assumptions to the table, and companies cannot afford to learn these lessons again when there is someone in the team who can steer them clear of the obstacles.  It's too costly to ignore and suppress people from sharing their ideas to create the best possible strategy.

There are three aspects in implementing this highly effective collaboration in an organization.

1. Everyone must be encouraged to speak out their perspectives.

Everyone with insight on a topic should feel comfortable enough to share their idea.  But that's not enough.  Everyone must have the sense of ownership, unwilling to ignore any problem that he can help solve, and actually speak out to share his perspectives.  Everyone is limited to one point of view, maybe two or three at best.  Rarely any one has perspectives from several angles.  No one monopolizes the complete 360 degree view of a problem.

2. Participants must understand their roles in making a decision as a group.

Everyone pitching in to share their perspective is not enough.  I'm sure many of you have been in a discussion where many ideas were shared yet at the end participants became even more confused and even emotionally drained because of not adhering to collaboration rules.  There must be rules in collaboration.  Each participant must understand what role they are playing and contribute their ideas within their domain of expertise in an additive, constructive manner.  Collaboration and critiquing are not the same thing.  Collaboration does not happen in anarchy.

3. Decision maker (or facilitator) must be experienced to control the flow of discussion, not the content.

After collecting all view points facilitator must be able to formulate a thesis that incorporates as much perspectives as possible.  From the thesis facilitator should also drive action items that can be followed through.  It is not easy to do this right.  It takes experienced facilitator who can listen to all perspectives and synthesize a description of the problem in a way that's more complete than any one's view.  Facilitator's task is to ensure that the collaboration happens, and collect all perspectives to create something bigger.

In today's fast changing knowledge-driven market, it's becoming increasingly more important for people to work together to leverage everyone's knowledge in solving business problems.  That is why I believe collaboration is a must.

If you hear a conversation like this in the hallway,
it's time to look for a new gig.
Source: http://marybaugh.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/6790-strip1.gif

No comments:

Post a Comment