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Collaboration: An Essential Element of a Winning Formula

As senior leaders, we can expect great things from our organizations when we focus on and emphasize collaboration.

Leading companies like Pixar, Google and Zappos are known for their employee engagement and collaborative work settings. The management team at Pixar, for example, placed such an emphasis on collaboration that it even designed its headquarters to foster cross-departmental interaction in hopes of inspiring staff-member collaboration.

Further, Tony Hseih announced at Zappos’ most recent annual employee symposium that he was instituting a “Holacracy” (self-governing, team-based work structures) that would flatten the organization and weave collaboration into the way the firm conducts all of its business. If the success enjoyed by these companies is any indication, there is something to be gained by all of us in the institutionalization of collaborative behaviors.

As senior leaders, we can expect great things from our organizations when we focus on and emphasize collaboration, including:

  • An Enhanced Workplace Profile: A collaborative work environment is very attractive to potential new hires. Your staff will create a buzz in the marketplace when they feel involved and appreciated, which will position the organization to never want for qualified candidates to satisfy its employment needs.

  • Better Operational Decision-Making: Stronger collaboration generates better solutions for the enterprise. Staff members will go above and beyond when working in a business they believe in. And, new and diverse solutions are more readily brought to the surface within collaborative organizations.

  • Improved Performance: Businesses perform better when they recognize the importance of employee buy-in and understanding. Staff members of collaborative organizations gain a better understanding and appreciation of the “big picture” than employees of less-collaborative concerns, which tend to conceal information and spin the facts. Consider the example of what happened at JCPenney when Ron Johnson took the helm and nearly drove the firm to bankruptcy because of a closed-communication and non-collaborative management style.

About James M. Kerr

James M. Kerr ( jkerr@blumshapiro.com) is a partner at Blum Shapiro Consulting located in West Hartford, CT where he heads the strategic planning and organizational behavior practice. In his latest book: The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change, there is an entire chapter dedicated to this subject.