“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Michael Jordan
A pillar of the modern work environment, collaboration has always presented a challenge for us human beings, complex as we are. With digital natives taking the reins of the workplace, in addition to the work itself evolving thanks to distributed teams that demand multiple languages and a need for instaneity and security in exchanges, expectations for a flexible working experience have never been higher or more necessary. Today, both within the office and outside its walls, our communication methods have evolved well beyond expectation, and perhaps understanding.
Picture this: A great idea for a project comes up during a meeting, after which a team of workers from different departments is assigned to work on it. A second meeting or brainstorming conference takes place with the whole team, and shortly after someone starts an email thread with the execution plan layed out. Countless messages ensue and the project hasn’t even begun… if that sounds like it could happen in your office, then it’s time for a change. In spite of our talent for articulating complex ideas, our collaborative skills may need some improvements. Is it possible to simplify the process to improve efficiency, enhance collaborative strategies, and increase productivity?
It’s been acknowledged that mass emails act in opposition to effective communication. Many startups have launched apps, software as service offers, project management platforms (such as Trello) and information sharing and storage services (like Dropbox and Google Drive) to bring greater efficiency to the table. The problem is that they focused on tools, drowning out the best parts of collaboration towards a common goal: creativity, problem solving, knowledge sharing, and innovation. The true magic of collaboration appears from synchronizing the human collective intelligence.
Choose a single platform and make sure the whole team commits to it. Brainstorming is about bouncing ideas back and forth and each team member should contribute without disrupting the flow of the process, all the while providing transparency on who did what when needed. Create channels dedicated to each specific project where only relevant members can join the conversation.
Today, our smartphones keep us updated at all times (most of the time too often) and our lapstops enable us to work from anywhere. Store important information, surveys, conference notes, client meeting briefs, and any other documents that might stimulate the team’s collective intelligence in a decentralized location that’s accessible at all times. Ensure each participant can remotely access files and keep tabs on progress even while they’re on the move.
Valuable collaborations stem from sharing knowledge (signal), connecting ideas but also empathy and trust. When lower value actions fade into the background (noise), participants can engage in the discussion at hand. A successful collaboration means pooling all of a team’s strengths and focusing on what’s important. This means simplifying communcation to avoid losing sign of the bigger picture.
Digital tools have the great potential to support human qualities and foster strong collaborations. To make positive changes now, determine how mobile and tech savvy your workforce is and identify ambassadors among your teams who can help implement better collaborate practices.
At the end of the day we’re social animals and we should let technology do the legwork so we can do what we do best!
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