Collaboration: Working Smarter, Not Harder

macbook on tableObviously the use of technology can support organizational collaboration. But hey… even if you don’t think that’s the case there are loads of technology vendors willing to offer you a solution for a problem you didn’t even know you had.

The reality, of course, is that we’re hyper connected with the opportunity to not only build robust social networks but also to interact across industries, time zones and geographies.  Many of us have grown accustomed to casting a wide net outside our organizations (hello Facebook friends!) but we need to enable the same sort of relationship building and connecting inside our organizations.

Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. etc.) have brought about a deeper understanding in the underlying approach to democratized sharing. Here in 2015 we all create and refine content as equals. Of course, as people expanded their use of these technologies at home or in their personal lives they began to not only expect them but also demand them at work.

And that’s a good thing.

But tools and technologies, used in the name of “collaboration,” should only be leveraged as such (invoking the C word) when they’ll support the creation of value.  Will you dissolve the constraints of time and distance by using a new tool?  Will use of a specific technology make work better? Will it be easier for people to partner and ideate together? Will you further the attainment of goals? Will you get more sh*t done?

It’s not as simple as flipping the switch and handing out logins and passwords though. You need to plan for the best method of implementation which includes being aware, once again, of both the motivational and ability barriers that exist in your workplace.  If technologies, no matter how helpful, are rolled out from ‘the top down’ some employees may resist what they see as yet another imposition.  “Why is the CEO telling us we have to use this?” “She has no concept how we work day to day.” 

Rather, leaders should consider letting technology adoption float from the ‘bottom up’ if its championed by actual users. Bob in IT likes a new online whiteboard, widget or sharing app? His team uses it? Let Bob roll it up and out to the rest of the organization.

The leader still has a role in this scenario as s/he needs to create the context and framework (and ensuring tools and resources are available) while allowing the actual demand and integration to be developed by employees…the users. The doers.

Smarter. Not harder.

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Thoughtful planning and preparation is critical to ensure effective collaboration in your organization.

Collaboration should be approached not because it’s a word on the company mission statement but rather because there are organizational goals and business strategies.

As we covered in this series it’s important to understand:

  • The types of collaboration and how collaborative groups form
  • The dynamics of organizational culture
  • The barriers that may exist due to people being either unwilling or unable to collaborate
  • The role of the leader
  • The smart use of tools and technologies

I believe you can maximize the return from talented employees and drive business success through successful, meaningful and purposeful collaboration.

I hope you believe that too.

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One thought on “Collaboration: Working Smarter, Not Harder

  1. Great article, Robin. You bring up some very valid points and a great idea about rolling out new tech changes from the bottom up. Another good idea is to give the employees an option between a couple different new technologies, give them the resources to learn about it, and then let them choose. That might also foster a harmonious relationship and also all the benefits new technologies offer. (:

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