Collaboration-It’s a Good Thing

They were sitting on the couch intent on their iPads. Chatting away about the project. My grandkids, that is, ages 9 and 7. They were building something in Minecraft, together, connected through iCloud. But also connected by voice.

Collaboration, it’s a good thing. Sometimes technology enables us to collaborate to build better things.

In my other profession, the one that pays the bills, I research companies and industries involved in a building and using a variety of technologies. But it always gets down to people. And how people interact.

Many companies foster silos. People exist only within their department or division or within their product group. They seldom share information or ideas. Many may not even know people in another division.

I’ve seen other companies where there is an attempt to bring people from a variety of functions together, but collaboration is hampered by what we call politics. The trust level in the company is not high. A person may be reluctant to say something out of fear that the comment may be taken out of context, spread to higher management ranks, and they may suffer career repercussions.

Once upon a time I led a department that designed machines to solve specific customer problems. We needed lots of ideas. White boards were a new thing. I bought a bunch. Put them in every cubical, office, and conference room. I told the engineers, sketch the problem on your white board. As you wander through the room to get coffee or whatever, look at the whiteboards. Talk to the other engineer. Maybe new ideas spring up.

We designed some pretty cool machines.

What are you building? Technology? Relationships? An organization?

Sensitize yourself to the atmosphere of the office or organization if you’re geographically spread. Are people sharing ideas? Are people receptive to ideas from others? What can be done to encourage collaboration?

One of my favorite quotes from the cartoon character Bugs Bunny was when somebody wanted to tell him something. “I’m all ears.”

Ah, the beginning of collaboration.

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