“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”- Helen Keller
All businesses have the ability to work smarter, not harder and come out better than the sum of their collective members’ intelligence and talent, however, many fall short. A collaborative culture sounds simple at its core. A group of people working together in a meaningful way to achieve successful results. Sounds simple, right? Then why do so many organizations struggle and even fail in their marketplaces?
As discussed in detail in Scientific American’s Workplace Anthropology Series, hurdles of the modern age can generate hurdles for true collaboration when individuals are focused on completing one part of a larger project independently and oftentimes remotely from their team. Emphasis on individuals and their success works counterintuitively against the art of collaboration and can cause rifts in the fabric of any team.
Rest assured, there are 3 simple steps to creating the collaborative culture your company needs.
Create an opportunity to allow strategic communication about innovation.
Good ideas can come from anywhere within an organization. Creating a tool that allows all participants an equal opportunity to participate in the exchange of these ideas can only lead to strategic innovation. Some possible tools are as simple as a concept worksheet that offers a concise product or project concept, the technology or tools to be utilized to create such a product, and how it will meet the needs of the client or customer. Or, more in-depth methods can be used to do a deeper evaluation of proposed projects, products, or programs. These could include more specifics such as risk factors, time tables, and projected deadlines, overall and broken down areas of cost analysis, and the value of the product, project, and program. Either tool can be modified to work for any organization and marketplace with a little effort. The most important component, however, is to ensure all members of an organization have access to this tool.
“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” – Dean Kamen, Engineer
Assess and Adjust ideas collectively and continuously.
In nimble organizations, innovative ideas aren’t reviewed only once or twice a year by senior leadership. Instead, they are reviewed, refined, and if necessary, revisited on a routine and constant basis. Successful collective assessments depend on two main components: having clear guidelines and a diverse panel of stakeholders who are invited early on to judge and refine the idea. ‘Simple rules’ a term coined by Donald Sull and Katherine Eisenhardt can help set standards by which to measure proposed innovations and guide the stakeholder and management team to vet an idea fully without a huge demand for downtime. While having a defined set of ‘rules’ is important, so is the collective group of stakeholders. People from all areas of the business should have access to these innovative ideas so that with the collective expertise bad ideas can be squashed quickly while ideas that show value and promise can get traction and potentially revised in ways that allow it to grow into a feasible product, project, or process.
Speed through traps that sink innovation.
Organizations that utilize nimble leadership tools, already have the skills necessary to pave the way for new projects and arm teams with the tools they need to take an innovative idea from concept to completion. If red tape is all you see when you take a close look at how your organization approaches innovation, it’s time to dig up a giant pair of scissors and cut your way through it. Managers do well to adopt Nimble Leadership practices and therefore foster a wave of collaboration within the organization. Carve out the pathway and watch the race to innovation take place.
Utilizing these simple steps, companies can embrace their collective power and become a stronger, more innovative contender in the marketplace. Contact us to learn more about fostering a collaborative culture in your workplace or learning the skills needed for Nimble Leadership. Great leaders are armed with the tools to recognize innovation and growth opportunities for success. Take the first step toward greatness today.