There's no doubt that collaboration is a key to organisational and team success. No one is as smart as all of us, and we bring groups of talented people together because we know that harnessing talent is the most efficient and productive way to achieve our goals, adapt and grow.
A McKinsey article noted that: "Nearly 80 percent of the senior executives surveyed in a 2005 study said that effective coordination across product, functional, and geographic lines was crucial for growth. Yet only 25 percent of the respondents described their organizations as effective at sharing knowledge across boundaries."
Collaboration isn't easy. Because all those talented people are also individuals. They have opinions, experiences and preferred ways of doing things. They have biases, expectations, fears and hopes. So let's work together. Good luck with that!
Collaboration relies upon communication.
"Communication helps individuals and groups coordinate activities to achieve goals, and it's vital in socialization, decision-making, problem-solving and change-management processes," Dr Bruce Berger noted in an Institute of Public Relations article on internal organisational communication. We have to share knowledge. We need to be able to ask questions. We look for shared insights. As Tim Baker and I noted in our book Conversations at Work, "The interactions that enable people to work together and produce are experienced through dialogue and conversation. These conversations shape and reflect the culture of organisations and the and groups within them."
Getting people to collaborate means encouraging and enabling them to communicate openly, confidently, respectfully and skilfully. And it's in our communication that the potential for collaboration often falls down. If we don't equip people with communication skills and provide the space for regular and effective communication to occur then our efforts at collaboration will flounder.
So, if collaboration requires effective communication, how do we get that started? With connections. Jane Dutton, from the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan observes that "High quality connections contribute to individual flourishing and to team and organizational effectiveness For leaders, tapping into the power of high-quality connections means taking seriously the evidence that this form of person-to-person interrelating is at the root of critical individual and collective capabilities" (European Business Review, 18 Nov. 2014).
Our high-quality connections - or lack of them - are reflected in our communication and, ultimately, in our collaboration. Encouraging connection, investing in quality connections and enabling people to strengthen their connections is not just the start of the collaboration process, but an ongoing part of the journey. Because as our communication enriches our collaboration, that collaboration can strengthen and create even more connections.
Connect. Communicate. Collaborate.
With Influence 3.
© Aubrey Warren, Influence 3, 2016. www.influence3.com.au