Enabling Effectiveness: Facilitating Collaboration and Capability

August 24, 2011

Collaborate or Die

Filed under: Blog,Newsletter — admin @ 2:06 pm

Article by: Vasintha Pather, August 2011


Most leaders agree that effective collaboration is more important than ever in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing business environment. In a reality where information, technology and markets are accessible, changing and advancing at warp speed it takes ongoing team collaboration to produce innovative, efficient and targeted results.

This from Harvard Business Review:

“Collaboration curves hold the potential to mobilize larger and more diverse groups of participants to innovate and create new value…  [R]apid leaps in performance improvement arise as participants get better faster by working with others. These leaps in performance describe the shape and power of the collaboration curve…and explains why the whole of us…can often be greater than the sum of our parts.” Harvard Business Review, April 2009.

…and this from IBM:

“To make the most of growth opportunities and unlock the potential of the workforce, CHROs [Chief HR Officers] will need to focus on three areas they say are highly important, but currently beyond their ability to achieve: developing future leaders, rapidly developing workforce skills and capabilities, and fostering knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

…Across the workforce capabilities CHROs evaluated…they rated their organizations as least effective in fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.”  IBM, Insights From The Global CHRO Study 2010.

Given our whirlwind global business environment, the delivery quality and agility that best practice insights indicate businesses need to quickly cultivate in order to stay in the game, and the capability conundrum that we in Africa appear particularly beset by, we could comfortably agree that the very survival of a company may depend on how well it creates and sustains a culture of collaboration

Companies able to optimally integrate the potential of their people and the quality of the talent they possess, with their ability to develop and share their knowledge, skills and resources across the organization, are the companies that will continue to flourish.

Our work at inter-arise is focused on coaching teams in being effective – as a team – through strengthening the ways in which they cooperate, communicate and deepen collective capability.  We find that the primary barriers a team is up against in its efforts to become a collective de force include the proverbial “silo” that still pervades the cultural and structural systems of too many organisations, inconsistent application of collaborative approaches and tools that stimulate innovation and encourage cooperation, reinforcing perceived divides between management and “employees”, business and IT etc, limited mentoring and coaching initiatives, and weak knowledge management.

Enlightening bodies of work from authors such as Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) and Daniel Pink (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates People) importantly highlight the consciousness landscape of those we regard as our talent.  The works of authors such as these clearly highlight that (a) people who fulfill roles that require even low levels of cognitive complexity are increasingly looking for purposeful environments in which they are able to make meaningful contributions; and that (b) organisations that support the emotional wellbeing of their people have a more resourceful workforce and produce better results.

Talent retention requires a collaborative environment.  Collaboration enables individuals to contribute their own personal value in creating shared outcomes and due to its socially supportive nature it also has the effect of enhancing positive emotions and wellbeing which leads to strengthening shared knowledge and capability.

The long and short of it is that businesses must look deeply into their systems and cultures and begin to intentionally cultivate cooperative ways of working if they want to flourish.  Collaboration allows companies to harness collective intelligence through optimising the value of their resources, capabilities and experiences throughout the organisation.   It accelerates knowledge development, process optimisation, innovation and agility; and importantly it supports the desire in each of us to be meaningful.

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