News flash. A Harvard Business Review study confirmed what we already knew--team collaboration is hard.
Yes we knew that. But the study also confirms that in complex environments, like the ones hardware development teams work in--often large, virtual, diverse, highly-educated--things get even harder. Much harder...
Team collaboration is hard
Here’s what Harvard Business Review found.
“Although teams that are large, virtual, diverse, and composed of highly educated specialists are increasingly crucial with challenging projects, those same four characteristics make it hard for teams to get anything done. To put it another way, the qualities required for success are the same qualities that undermine success. Members of complex teams are less likely—absent other influences—to share knowledge freely, to learn from one another, to shift workloads flexibly to break up unexpected bottlenecks, to help one another complete jobs and meet deadlines, and to share resources—in other words, to collaborate.”
Ways to foster team collaboration
The good news? The study shares recommendations for companies that want to solve this craggy problem. And let's face it, in new product development, collaboration is essential.
Here are eight practices of collaborative organizations cited by the Harvard Business Review study. And we’ve added one more--the right tools and method to support the team.
You’ve got great people, here’s what to do to drive a more collaborative team approach.
- Get executive support.
What happens to initiatives in companies without executive support? In our experience, not much. It’s pretty hard to drive any culture shift without management on board. Maybe this will change as teams become flatter. But for now, executive support is critical.
- Invest in relationship building.
Companies that invest in relationship building efforts, from things like team-building, to office designs that foster community, to encouraging face-to-face meetings, have more collaborative teams.
- Demonstrate collaboration at the management level.
It's often stated that culture comes from the top. Companies where employees believed management worked collaboratively, were well, more collaborative.
- Make mentoring and coaching part of your culture.
Pretty self explanatory.
- Invest in collaboration and communication training.
For some collaboration and communication is innate, for others, training in collaboration and communication is required. In one company, employees were trained on topics like "appreciating others, being able to engage in purposeful conversations, productively and creatively resolving conflicts, and program management."
- Lunch anyone?
Yes companies that invested in activities outside of regular work such as team lunches, and exercise programs, were more collaborative.
- Hire and assign team leaders that are both task-oriented and relational.
Relational skills and good project management skills were equally important.
- Role and task clarity.
Collaboration improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood—when individuals feel that they can do a significant portion of their work independently.
- This is the one we've added. The right supporting tools and process in place.
At PLAYBOOK we have proven one of the cornerstones of success to foster collaboration in teams is to have a method and tools in place that support real-time communication and make collaboration, in essence, barrier-free.
With the right relational and task orientation, plus training in place, we know through experience that innovation can become predictable and your teams will be working in a state of flow — enabled to innovate!
Want barrier-free team collaboration? Get clear and correct priorities, visible queues and more with PLAYBOOK.