The Benefits of Enabling Collaboration

Public policy and society as a whole have become increasingly complex. The simple solutions of the past are no longer adequate to meet the needs of even a subset of the population, as the complexity of today’s issues requires an interrelated set of solutions instead of a one-size-fits-all fix.

To address the issues and challenges your organization faces today and in the future, collaboration is necessary. Bringing people together as a team to meet a common goal is the best way to efficiently accomplish objectives, yet collaboration isn’t something that comes naturally in most cases. Because it is in our nature to compete in professional environments, it takes proper leadership to cultivate a collaborative environment.


Fostering an Environment of Collaboration

Adam Richardson of the Harvard Business Review writes, “The crucial groundwork for successful collaboration needs to be laid before the ‘actual’ collaborative work happens.” In other words, you should be fostering a collaborative environment among your staff even if your current objectives do not necessarily require collaborative input. Prior preparation is essential for tackling future goals as a cohesive team.

Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and this old adage couldn’t hold more truth in today’s business environments. When teams collaborate, each individual is producing his best work, thus contributing to a greater success than that achievable by a single individual.


Consistency Builds Trust

Leaders can help promote this environment by consistently utilizing individual strengths while appreciating and capitalizing on differences. It is not possible to foster collaboration with an inconsistent leader who rewards only individual accomplishments and participates in the group’s efforts to move forward only when he is in agreement with the ideas presented.

Even when collaboration is not essential for accomplishing objectives, leaders should continuously promote a cooperative working environment. Team members should feel empowered and as though their ideas are being heard and considered at all times. When this essential component is missing on a day-to-day basis, those same team members are reluctant to participate in larger projects for the benefit of the unit as a whole.


Technology Reduces Roadblocks to Communication

Thanks to ever-increasing technological advances, information sharing is simpler than ever before. Because communication in today’s world is instantaneous, whether written or spoken, there is no excuse for avoiding cross-team and cross-unit collaboration. Geographical barriers are no longer a concern.

Seamless communication eases collaboration among teams. This would have been difficult to achieve prior to the availability of email, instant messaging and cloud-computing solutions that enable multiple team members to collaborate within a single document simultaneously. The same is true for webinars and conferences, which can now be held via the Web with all attendees viewing a facilitator’s screen.

Collaboration is not easy to achieve. It requires significant efforts from leaders to foster the cooperative mindset. When a collaborative environment is achieved, groups can realize results more efficiently and effectively than when individuals work alone.

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