The idea of collaboration is taking over the workplace as we know it. Silos are breaking down, people are working cross-functionally, and teamwork is becoming the norm over individual pursuit. While we celebrate the idea of making collaboration standard practice in every organization, we recognize the phenomena of collaborative overload and the misplaced faith in treating collaborative technology as an end in itself.
So, in this blog, we want to walk back to some first principles and discuss just how essential true collaboration is to business and society.
Collaboration Makes History…
As fond as we are of the image of the singular genius making breakthroughs of innovation and imagination that benefit mankind, those instances are the exception, not the rule. For every Edison and Einstein toiling away in obscurity until touched by the light of inspiration, there are many more teams of researchers and strivers that broke new scientific and commercial ground by working together toward a common goal. Sir Jeremy Farrar noted that even in the individual labs of most leading scientists today, results are invariably born from a joint effort.
So, too, has collaboration formed the backbone of business. To state something perhaps so obvious it’s overlooked, the vast majority of commercial enterprises are, by their very nature, a collaboration of individuals working to achieve a common purpose. Were this not the case, the business world would be a sea of sole proprietorships, and we would have no highways or telecommunications or any of the myriad societal building blocks that result from people working together to achieve together what one person could never accomplish alone.
…But Only When It’s Effective
The trick to making history (or to collaborative success of any magnitude) is in finding ways to make working together effective. As the authors of Collaborative Overload in the Harvard Business Review pointed out, the time spent on collaboration must be viewed as a resource like any other. Failure to optimize this resource can stunt innovation setting back company growth for years. For example, too much collaboration may create an operational bottleneck; at a certain point, when everything has to be a team effort, fewer things get done.
Teamwork works when everyone participating in the collaboration has a clear understanding and appreciation for each other’s roles and strengths. It is, to an important degree, an expression of mutual respect and trust. Collaboration is not simply a matter of making group decisions, but rather, it involves assigning a task to people who believe each person involved is essential to reaching a goal and then giving them the trust and tools to achieve it.
Tech’s Role in Workplace Collaboration
Tools like Slack, Asana, Basecamp, Podio, and Trello are essential to facilitating online collaboration among stakeholders. Slack, the gold standard, is now used by more than 500,000 companies worldwide with more than 8 million daily users. Given that these tools and others like them are software-centric, they allow collaborations among a targeted group to occur in a frictionless and asynchronous manner resulting in enhanced productivity.
When it comes to collaborating in a meeting, an analogous tool is required. A meeting should be the paragon of collaborative endeavors – everyone in a room, physically or virtually, discussing topics, sharing information, and making decisions in a frictionless manner to move a project forward. Unfortunately, the tech installed in many meeting spaces adds friction to the conversation flow. Plugging in cables, limited sharing options, cumbersome multiple click workflows, and insecure and under-performing data transfer make most wireless collaboration tools inadequate for enabling true teamwork.
At Mersive, our passion is developing products that increase employee engagement in the meeting space. Solstice, our wireless collaboration platform, makes sharing any amount of content easy for all meeting participants which can help build and deepen the trust and productivity among team members — an essential component to any successful group effort. To learn more about how Solstice can enhance your collaborations, contact us today.