Often, discovering new and better ways to overcome challenges is more than one mind can handle, or at least more than one can handle well in a tight timeframe. There are countless tasks and complexities beyond the capability of an individual to consider that can be handled by concentrated team effort.
Collaboration is the process of people working together to discover ways to solve problems; address complex or cross-functional issues; improve processes, products or systems; or invent new ones.
Creative, collective thinking applied to the work we do leads to the examination of how we do it, and how we can do it better. The result of effective collaboration is the discovery of new ways that are better, simpler, more efficient, or faster.
Effective collaboration typically requires the sharing of knowledge. This can be difficult for people with the view that “knowledge is power.” These people horde information, some of it critical to the success of the team, with the idea that they can use it later for some kind of personal gain. Thankfully, this mindset is disappearing as our connected culture gets used to the ubiquity and availability of information (plus one for the so-called Millennials).
Shared knowledge increases everyone’s pool of knowledge, which consistently leads to better results.
Sharing information is critical, because it leads to understanding and keeps you in the loop. Sometimes, just being in the know opens a wider range of opportunities.
When problems are complex or seem unusually difficult to solve, breakthroughs can be discovered through the collaboration of people with diverse abilities or varying viewpoints. You’ve probably seen this before during successful brainstorming sessions – collaboration leads to an abundance of ideas and options in a short period of time.
When targeting common goals, variation of viewpoints is transformed from being the source of conflict to being the source of creativity.
The collaboration equation is simple, but incredibly powerful:
- Collaboration helps improve production and product quality (or service delivery and service quality).
- Collaboration delivers better results in less time.
- Improved products/services, higher levels of productivity, and processes without bottlenecks contribute directly to the bottom line.
In addition to helping create an environment where people enjoy their work, fostering a cultural of collaboration delivers real results.