By William Buist, CEO of Abelard and Founder of [nurl=http://xtenclub.com/]xTEN Club
Many companies, big and small, are moving towards a more collaborative approach to business. Effective collaboration is much more than just ‘working together’ – it’s a strategic choice too.
As companies delve further into a collaborative work environment, they quickly find that the benefits have the power to transform the entire organisation in unexpected, yet positive, ways.
The collaboration between different groups within an organisation, as well as with external contractors, changes how all stakeholders view themselves and those around them.
Here are my top five unexpected benefits of collaboration:
1. Employee alignment
When people share and explain their ideas in a contextually consistent environment that is commonly understood, the feedback improves the quality of their thoughts (rather than highlighting misunderstandings and the need for further explanation). This type of feedback also helps to improve self-awareness as employees realise their strengths and weaknesses and how they measure against the rest of the group.
2. Role focus (rather than task focus)
When there is collaboration the team delivers results collectively, with each member performing their role, to their strengths. The best person does the best work at the best time, and there are no ‘turf wars’ to contend with.
Employees who know their strengths and weaknesses are much better at asking for help, and offering it, when needed. This internal awareness better equips the organisation to capitalise on the talents of everyone in the company, which will then drive progress and advancement. Collaboration helps to build trust among employees and teaches them to rely on each other – allowing them to function as a more cohesive unit.
3. Stimulate fresh thinking
Collaboration can bring together different types of specialists and departments, which can give people new ways to reach an organisational goal. The new ideas and thought processes that result can challenge everyone to consider different directions that would not have been considered if everyone worked separately. These new ideas and approaches drive companies by reinvigorating their relationships with their customers and changing their approach to their overall goals, boosting the bottom line.
Collaboration can be the lifeblood that lets new ideas thrive throughout the organisation.
4. Encourage innovation
Creating a culture that encourages innovation necessitates one that also encourages collaboration. A company that develops the latest ideas is not afraid to allow people to experiment, even if that experiment does not succeed. This helps employees feel free to explore new ideas rather than feeling restricted by the threat of failure. This is the type of environment that encourages innovation and fresh thinking.
5. Re-energise everything
Business collaboration facilitates people learning together with those whose views on any particular organisational challenge are framed from a different set of knowledge and experiences. Solutions can be synthesised that are beyond the knowledge of any one person. When these different groups of people work together it can lift the group to new ways of thinking – re-energising every member.
Collaboration can also significantly reduce communication problems between groups. By working together the understanding of the considerations and ideas, is deepened. This creates a new ability to coordinate quickly on current and future projects. It will also make it easier for the organisation's departments to view each other equitably because they have had their biases exposed and challenged in a supportive environment.
Collaboration has far reaching benefits for companies, producing organisations that are filled with employees who are self-aware, aligned, role focused, able to stimulate fresh thinking and encourage innovation, and are re-energised, lifting the company to new heights. Business leaders who have ever doubted the potential benefits they could receive from encouraging collaboration should put to rest any fears and find ways to implement this strategy now.