Strugglin’ With Collaboration?

Filed Under Mind Mapping

Strugglin' With Collaboration?

April 16, 2012

We all know the power of being able to ask a group for help. However, creating an environment where successful collaboration takes place is a difficult task. As we place more and more emphasis on successful collaboration at the workplace, I think we all could use some help. Today, I wanted to share some tips on how to get quality collaboration courtesy of a recent report published by Anecdote.

Identify Internal Champions

Just like any other initiative, when you are trying to change culture it “requires someone to foster its development”. Internal champions are going to be your best friend when it comes to instituting change; these people are daily users of collaboration tools and are highly invested. Yet, despite this somewhat obvious statement there are countless “examples of organizations seeking to enhance their collaboration capability without identifying or resourcing people responsible for developing and nurturing it.” It goes without saying that wishful thinking isn’t enough, if you are serious about your initiative, time and resources must be allocated.

Struggling with what some of those responsibilities might be? It’s ok Anecdote supplies us with some examples:

  • Finding opportunities in the organization where better collaboration would make a difference in the quality of the product, or the speed of delivering these products to market
  • Connecting people and ideas, so new collaborations can be established
  • Helping people learn and adopt collaboration best practices and tools
  • Collecting success stories, for those times when a little convincing may be needed
  • Keeping up to date with the field of collaboration

Foster Collaboration Support

However, the internal evangelist can’t go it alone. They have to be able quickly build up a support group. “Collaboration supporters are your best option for tapping to the full power of both team, community and network collaboration.” You will find that with more people comes a larger skill set and talent pool to draw from, so pay attention to what each person can bring to the table. Some key characteristics of a good supporter to the internal champion should have the following:

  • People with strong project – management and strategic skills can be strong supporters of team processes and thus team collaboration. These are people who like to focus on one thing at a time and support progress towards a defined goal
  • People who enjoy building their personal knowledge and identity in their fields usually make for good supporters. They are often interested in community participation as a way to attain their goals
  • People who are “curious, global thinkers, who can scan and connect people and ideas” usually make up excellent supporters. They are often the “bridgers” who take ideas and act upon them

Face time with the boss

“Don’t wait for the boss to ask for documentation of collaboration success.” Instead, collaboration leaders (or any initiative leader) should be in close communication with senior management particularly if that supervisor has a vested interest in the project. While everyone likes it when the project is a success, don’t be afraid of comminuting the failures to your boss as well. Failures are learnings that are as (if not more) important than successes. The important aspect to remember about failures is to learn from them and not to make the same mistake twice.

Start Communities of practice

Developing communities is an organic practice. “You never quite know what is going to happen or whether it will succeed entirely.” A quick path to failure is to actively set up a community to discuss the problems around X. The idea here is to give employees the tools to establish their own groups for specific pain points they are encountering. To help kick-start the program, Anecdote suggests identifying  “people with common interests in a domain that is important to the business.”  Then once you’ve met with each individually to learn about issues that they are experiencing you may want to bring the parties together and “suggest that they might meet regularly to enhance their learning around this important topic.” Not every single person will jump on this idea, but by using this high touch approach you are letting groups naturally form. These natural groups, once established, will be excellent hubs of activity that you will be able to point to in the future as successes.

Practice Makes Perfect

Not every tool, or strategy will work best for your scenario. They only way to learn what does work best is to experiment. Eventually, you will learn what strategies work best with your culture.

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