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Driving Collaboration in Firms

I’m a pretty big sports fan as you probably can tell from some of my previous posts. In sports much like anything else, collaboration, cooperation, teamwork, are the cornerstones of project success. With this in mind, how can we foster this culture of collaboration inside departments, corporations?

Some may think that successful collaboration is primarily about having the proper software. While having solid collaboration software does help, it is not the end all be all. I can’t even begin to recount the number of times I’ve worked with people who think that simply because they have the tools the end result will fall into place. Yes, having good collaboration software is important, but it doesn’t do much good if no one is using it. I believe that to really foster collaboration, it has to come from within. To achieve successful collaboration, there needs to be a culture of collaborating in place. This is very similar to the point Chelsi brought up some weeks ago regarding how to successfully adopt an agile business culture. So, how then do we go about creating a culture of collaboration?

Generally speaking, collaboration is something that occurs naturally and easily. People naturally form groups and collaborate on projects together. Here we see low level collaboration primarily arising out of naturally selected groups. The problem with these groups is that they usually exist only in small numbers, as they are typically based off of proximity. How do we move from these small naturally selected groups to inter departmental or corporate wide collaboration?

I believe to successfully move towards a collaborative culture a “collaboration champion” is needed. This is because of two major issues: 1) people naturally do not like change and 2) to really push change you need to have an individual own and foster the change. So, whether this means creating a Chief Collaboration Officer or something else, there needs to be an internal collaboration champion.

“Information hoarders” individuals who feel that by sharing their knowledge with others will become less important may be some of the largest barriers to creating a corporate collaborative culture. Every company has them and they will naturally be inclined to push back. They key in tackling this issue is through education. By educating these individuals about how they’ll become even more valued as knowledge centers when collaborating with others is a powerful way to help alleviate their woes. Who knows, you may even win over a few new collaboration champions this way.

Lastly you need to be patient. Undergoing such a large cultural shift takes time. I know this may seem a bit silly to state, but you have to remember to be patient.

Your Turn
Do you have any collaboration tips?
Do you think successful collaboration comes from establishing a collaborative culture?

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