Each company or organization sets up a Vocoli "instance" to generate surveys, to build a suggestion box, and to connect with the team.
Which one of these is you?
More and more business practices are being set up around teams these days.
There are cross-functional teams where workers across different specialties come together to collaborate and make decisions. Then there are the more traditional department teams that have people from the same work area meet on a regular basis. The list of team dynamics goes on and on.
All of this naturally begs the question: how can a team truly work well together? Key topics in the team effectiveness space tend to revolve around concepts such as transparency and collaboration, but when done effectively, what does that look like? How is effective collaboration fostered and maintained?
Ultimately, the goal of collaboration is to make decisions faster and with more expertise in the process; the theory is that groups working together can achieve more than an individual. Think about a quick basketball example. When one player grabs a rebound, he/she can run up the court themselves dribbling and try to go score on the other end. If they’re a great player, that might work a few times. But if they pass to someone, who passes to another person, who passes again; that ball will get up the court quicker, and the other team won’t know exactly what’s happening.
As some say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
As such, the first key step to effective collaboration is setting clear goals: why is this specific team working together? What is the ultimate goal? What would success look like? And who is in charge of each aspect? This can be challenging territory for many people, which is why Step No. 2 is also paramount.
This refers to leadership/senior staff advocating that collaboration is important. Organizations are almost never truly flat. There’s some hierarchy in place almost everywhere. If it appears that collaboration isn't a value of the top people, it will be hard for collaboration to catch on within the organization.
This can be approached from two different perspectives -- the first is in terms of technology and information sharing. How will the work be organized and how will everyone get on the same page? There are various types of infrastructure around this, from the much more common (Google Docs, Microsoft Office) to dozens of startups in the organizational space that have cropped up in recent years (for example, Asana or Vocoli).
The second aspect of setting norms and processes is figuring out the guiding values of the collaborating team. How important is transparency and getting things out in the open? How often will the team meet? How will the meeting be structured? What will be the follow-up process on action items? Who will be checking on these things? In sum: what are the communication protocols?
While this is a controversial research space, many seem to now agree that brainstorming, as a concept, doesn't work very well. The New Yorker wrote a rather long piece attacking brainstorming a few years ago, prominently featuring a 2004 study from the European Journal of Social Psychology that also viewed ‘brainstorming’ as ineffective. This is largely because a lot of ideas are produced during brainstorming but very few are followed through with.
There’s another approach some organization use called “brain-swarming;” the difference there is that employees write down the ideas as opposed to discussing them. They’re given pieces of paper with goals at the top and resources at the bottom; they place the ideas into the middle space, creating interactions. Studies have shown this to produce 115 ideas per 15 minutes, whereas conventional brainstorming produces only 110 per 60 minutes.
The above four ideas around collaboration almost exclusively refer to things that happen before you begin the actual work. This fifth idea references what happens once the work has begun.
You need to work with respect. That is, value the contributions of everyone in the group, regardless of role. And those norms and processes established above need to be followed.
Finally, use metrics, data or some form of analysis as the group begins to work together to ascertain how successful the group is at the ultimate goal. This doesn’t mean analyze one thing and then immediately change course if it isn’t working. Rather, it means have check pointed goals (three weeks, six weeks, etc.) so that the collaborating group can make sure they’re on track and not getting too far from the “clear goals” they established in Step 1.
What has worked for your organization in terms of teams collaborating together? Please share some ideas with us via Twitter: @Vocoli
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