Staying relevant in the ever-growing technology industry requires more than the bare minimum. For any business to stay afloat and attract more investors, problems must be solved, and solutions must be provided.
Of course, it’s impossible to solve problems without innovation, and collaboration is the key to rapidly unlocking new ideas to solve old problems. That is to say, that collaboration is critical for innovative thinking and accelerated innovation. This research by NatureResearch is in line with that fact.
That explains why — even in the heat of the pandemic, in 2020, when movements were restricted, local offices shut down, and teams were unable to connect face-to-face — managers and tech leaders of established companies had to ensure that team collaboration remained intact among remote employees, even if it means investing in a few collaborative tools.
So, What Is The Way Forward?
Today, especially in this post-pandemic world, the need for collaboration and innovation becomes even more pronounced as the scope of the technology industry keeps expanding. And not even proximity or distance can impede the ongoing revolution.
Tech businesses, business owners, managers, and teams must fast-track their innovative journey through enhanced collaboration to join the moving train or risk being left behind.
But how exactly can they achieve this? Well, some tips discussed below will give you the needed insights.
Effective Collaboration: Why Is It So Important?
As implied earlier, businesses today have become more demanding because customers want the best they can get. Investors are paying more attention to the ESG goals which companies must meet. And technology is growing at a tremendous pace, meaning that the lifecycle of each new product is short-lived. Little wonder why, according to a recent Forrester study, over 71% of business leaders and executives acknowledged that they’d have to accelerate new offerings to maintain their market position.
And the fact remains that there is no better way to “accelerate new offerings” than building cross-functional collaboration among teams. Over 69% of respondents from high-scoring organizations posit that open collaboration boosts innovation. At the same time, another 67% agree that open collaboration results in more support for business decisions on the part of technical staff.
Benefits Of Team Collaboration
Some benefits of collaborating with like-minded individuals with varying professional and educational experiences are as follows:
1. Opportunity for New Ideas And Innovative Thinking
Collaboration allows teams to discover new ideas, try new things, brainstorm effectively, and drive enhanced creativity.
2. A Comprehensive Solution To Problems
Organizations that collaborate tend to see and analyze a problem from a wide range of perspectives, providing a more comprehensive solution for a competitive advantage.
3. Unified Vision
A company with collaborative team members has a shared and clear vision of its project’s direction.
4. Accelerated Project Execution And Completion
Collaborative effort accelerates projects and hastens software, application, or product development.
A study, for example, has it that over 83% of tech leaders agree that collaborating cross-functionally is vital for successful software development. Moreover, when companies address difficulties together as a team, the project becomes easier to implement and faster to complete.
So, How Can Business Leaders Build Effective Collaboration For Innovation?
1. Be Intentional About Your Team Building
Collaboration is TEAM work, meaning it’s impossible to collaborate without a team. However, for SUCCESSFUL collaboration, it’s essential to assemble the right team to cope with different work situations. For example, a group that can work remotely and still be productive.
The right team for innovation should also consist of people with varying but complementary skills and work experience willing to contribute their expertise to help inspire innovation.
2. Empower All Team Members As Equals
A famous quote has it that “talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” This means that if opportunities can be “universalized, ” more talents would be uncovered. The same translates to innovation: If every team member is empowered with the opportunity to contribute innovative ideas — not minding their age, gender, race, or expertise — the team will come up with more creative ways of solving problems.
In other words, innovative decision-making shouldn’t be the job of only a few members of the organization. The platform should be open for everyone to create, innovate, and have the anonymity to try and fail without fear.
3. Create A Problem-To-Be-Solved Repository
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. Meaning that there can’t be any innovation if there is no problem to solve in the first place. Research has shown that humans are biologically wired to be more innovative when they have a pressing issue.
That’s why tech organizations looking to innovate through collaboration should create a repository of problems where everyone can remotely contribute to the problem-solving process. These problems may come from a project or a series of questions requiring critical thinking.
The question one might likely ask at this point is, has any team developed or completed any major project through this means? Well, the answer is YES. More often than you can imagine.
4. Establish A Unified Vision Among Teams
While creating a repository of problems and involving everyone in the innovative processes, it’s also vital to ensure the whole team is on the same page in terms of the ultimate goal of the project.
You have to harmonize the numerous ideas arising from team collaboration within a company.
This can be achieved by holding sessions geared towards innovation. Most organizations carry out this exercise remotely via virtual meetings, but others prefer having it face-to-face.
Apart from establishing a unified vision, holding such sessions would allow companies and organizations to gather and test the latest ideas, thinking, and resources that can engender creativity.
5. Create An Innovation Lab
Innovating through collaboration goes beyond gathering lots of ideas from different sources. The most important thing is what comes next after such ideas are collected. After all, it is one thing to have a concept but a different thing altogether to develop such a concept.
An innovation lab enables companies to provide collaborative team members with the tools and resources to IMPLEMENT innovation and not just stop at the conceptualization phase.
6. Encourage Flexibility And Free-Flow Of Information Among Cross-Functional Team’s
Information hoarding is the greatest enemy of collaboration (and innovation, by extension). Effective communication is always crucial!
Innovation is best achieved when decision-making is in the hands of flexible, agile, cross-functional teams. And not when a company has a designated innovation team that tends to hoard information to themselves.
For a company to encourage broader collaboration, it has to tear down the information silos. Plus, teams must be open to sharing their in-progress works and willing to accept inputs from other team members.
7. Integrate Modern Collaboration Technology Into The System
Apart from the steps highlighted above, a few collaboration tools can be employed to simplify communication flow and enable faster innovation.
And in truth, the best collaboration usually comes from open communication, especially when using tools like Slack chat groups, WhatsApp groups, or Microsoft Teams chats to share information.
Benefits Of Collaboration Technology In A POST-PANDEMIC Business World
Some benefits of using collaboration tools are as follows:
i. Reduced Cost
Tools like Google Meet, Skype meetings, and Zoom meetings provide a video platform for employees to hold face-to-face meetings even when working remotely, thereby reducing the expenses of handling a travel-intensive project.
ii. Improved Customer Engagement
Collaboration and creativity are, sometimes, not all about the company. Even customers can directly or indirectly contribute to the innovative processes.
Most organizations nowadays integrate collaborative tools like chatbots into their websites and other social channels to collect valuable data (from customers) that can inspire creativity. Such data may include complaints the company must resolve to retain its customers.
iii. Workplace Flexibility
Of course, there is no better way to collaborate than ensuring workplace flexibility regarding communication. That’s precisely what existing technologies like Asana and Trello do.
iv. A Boost To Your Team’s Collaborative Effort And Innovation
Remember, the whole essence of collaboration is to enable managers, employees, and other stakeholders to develop quick solutions to pressing problems.
The role of collaborative tools is to bridge the gap necessitated by factors like distance and inadequate communication channels, thereby amplifying team efforts.
8. Celebrate And Reward Successful Team Work
One of the best ways to strengthen collaboration in any organization is by celebrating any success recorded through cooperation and teamwork.
A simple congratulatory message or a round of applause during one of the general meetings can go a long way to promote collaboration.
You might as well go the extra mile by establishing some form of reward package for successful collaborative efforts that drive the organization closer to attaining its goals.
9. See Failure As A Stepping Stone To Success
It’s normal to be discouraged when you put in lots of effort collaborating and merging ideas and insights, only to be unsuccessful. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t be the end of the journey because no effort is entirely wasted.
To innovate successfully, tech leaders shouldn’t be failure-phobic but embrace failure and see it as a stepping stone to success.
For instance, punishing employees for making failed innovative attempts that resulted in wasted resources could be counterproductive as far as invention is concerned. Instead, you should be encouraging them and perhaps suggesting better ways to improve on what they already know.
Innovating rapidly, meeting the demands of investors, and matching up with the ever-changing realities of the tech industry are some of the most daunting challenges faced by tech leaders.
And yes, the key to accelerated innovation is collaboration. But then, establishing an effective collaborative structure within an organization is more complicated than it sounds — considering that remote work is almost inescapable nowadays.
In that case, it takes a conscious effort to collaborate and create space for a whole different culture, enabling employees (whether remote or not) to drive all their efforts towards achieving a common goal: INNOVATION.
Fortunately, the tips discussed above have proven to go a long way in guaranteeing successful collaboration that inspires innovation.