Collaboration: An Essential Element of a Winning Formula


    Here are five fundamentals for becoming more collaborative:

    1. Decide to Collaborate: The leadership team must spearhead the shift to collaboration. If you do not make collaboration a priority, it will likely not happen to the degree necessary to garner expected results. So, establishing focus on a collaborative work environment right at the top is a necessary first step.

    2. Promote the Culture: Google publicizes its collaborative nature on its website. Here’s one of the thoughts presented in a section describing its culture: “We strive to maintain the open culture often associated with startups, in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.” I suggest we all follow Google’s lead and promote the collaborative culture we want to create.

    3. Inspire Early Adopters: The thought of increasing collaboration in the work environment will appeal early on to a specific set of staff members. It’s our job to inspire that subset of employees to quickly embrace the proposed changes and enthusiastically volunteer to assist us in forging a more collaborative setting. We can do this by getting them involved in the initial collaboration projects and programs.

    4. Leverage Gen Y: The next generation of workers wants to collaborate with others— supported by the social media they have become famous for, Gen Y employees have been collaborating with each other for years. We need to foster that habit to keep it going in the workplace by leveraging their interest and including them in the process.

    5. Tie Collaboration to Measurement and Reward Programs: Tying measurement and reward to collaborative behavior is a terrific way to entice collaboration within an organization. People will modify behavior if incented to do so. Therefore, it is in our best interest to forge a strong linkage between these programs and the collaborative outcomes that we seek.

    When it comes to designing a winning enterprise, it is not always easy to solve for “x.” However, by making a conscious effort to establish a collaborative work setting, we enable our organizations to better leverage the unique strengths and capabilities of its entire workforce—positioning the enterprise to achieve great things by fully capitalizing on its talent.

    James Kerr is a partner at BlumShapiro Consulting. He specializes in corporate transformation, strategy formulation, business process redesign and Internet and technology management and planning. He is the author of The Executive Checklist (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and three other business books. Contact him at [email protected]