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Collaboration is the Key that Creates Organisational Value

If trust is the foundation of effective collaboration, then collaboration is the organisations key to start the engine and keep it running.

Collaborative work consumes 85% of people‘s workweeks (Source: HBR 2023), consider then the expense to organisations when collaboration is not optimised, inefficiencies and duplication of efforts arise and unnecessary resources and time are wasted. Individuals that are disconnected from their colleagues and the organisation’s mission, have lower morale, engagement, and productivity. Innovation may be stifled as ideas are not freely shared or developed with diverse perspectives. Overall, the absence of a good collaboration culture can create a work environment that lacks trust, creativity, and synergy, potentially impacting the organisation’s ability to adapt, innovate, retain talent and thrive in a competitive marketplace.  Companies leveraging the right culture elements are 20 x more likely to be recognised as great places to work (Source: Josh Bersin 2023).

The tangible results of a good collaboration culture include increased learning, alignment with organisational goals, and successful completion of challenging tasks. Such a collaborative culture not only sparks innovation but also contributes to the overall success and sustainability of the organisation. While 86% of employees in leadership positions blame the lack of collaboration as a top reason for workplace failures (Source: Zippia Research 2023), the positive feelings and increased engagement that stem from effective collaboration resonate deeply with team members, making collaboration an invaluable asset in shaping a positive and fulfilling work environment.

2023 Research Data for Collaborative Work

2023 Research Data for Collaborative Work

What is a Collaborative Organisation?

Being a collaborative organisation means fostering a culture where employees, teams, communities and departments work in cooperation together irrespective of location. Collaboration involves more than simply working together, it’s about creating mechanisms and synergies that allow the whole organisation to perform better than the sum of its parts.

But can organisations be too collaborative? In this current age when audience is deemed a key measure of success, how do we design organisational collaboration that meets the social aspects to feed moral and a sense of belonging, while ultimately serving the organisation value through collaborative practices? Too much collaboration can serve to damage organisational effectiveness and value. As Morten Hansen points out in his book “Collaboration”, “over-collaboration, where there is too much emphasis on teamwork may lead to inefficiency and a lack of individual accountability“. 

What is Needed to Create Collaboration for Value?

I have long been an advocate in business of collaboration for value, that is focused on innovation, learning or specific business outcomes. This means enabling and bringing the right people, with the mandate, knowledge, skills, experience and/or creativity to work together on a project, initiative or learning goal.

Collaboration for business value is being played out partially in the current active debate about work from home, hybrid, virtual or flexible work. The one common denominator in this discussion is work and this is where the focus must lie for organisations to succeed in such economical, employment and technology disruptive times. Today, technology is largely not a barrier to collaborative success, although provision of the better tools and network bandwidth may still play a role. Today 80% of SAP employees think SAP is a more attractive employer due to its hybrid work model (Source: SAP FoW Trend Report 2023 Dr. Christian Schmeichel). These days technological collaboration and communications tools are in abundance, and while prior to the pandemic many of those tools already existed, there is no question that the pandemic shone a light on the potential to collaborate successfully through technology.

When we see the statistical data supporting the need for effective collaboration, we know that this must be a focus in the culture and behaviours lived out in our organisations by our people to optimise our collaboration for value success.  All of us live in a collaborative world and our success in it is our unique selling point whether in a team, cross functional team, communities, a hybrid work model, matrix organisation or collaborating externally in external networks, learning institutions or with customers and partners or purely in social networks.

How to Collaborate for Organisational Value:

  1. Ensure that collaboration aligns with the broader business objectives and values. Clearly defining the purpose of collaboration will guide selection, engagement, and alignment of the team towards common goals.
  2. Have leaders that model collaborative behaviour, provide clear directives and empower team members to make decisions. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations to reduce confusion and foster ownership.
  3. Identify and engage the right talent, look for individuals who not only have the required skills and experience but also display a collaborative/digital mindset. Diversity of thought, background, and expertise can spark innovation.
  4. Create an environment where collaboration and innovation are celebrated. Encourage open communication, risk-taking, and continuous learning. Recognise and reward collaboration to reinforce desired behaviors.
  5. Establish transparent and open communication practices, using the appropriate tools and platforms that enable seamless information sharing and collaboration.
  6. Adopt agile methodologies that allow for flexibility and responsiveness. Leaders should be able to adapt to changes and foster a sense of agility within the team.
  7. Provide continuous opportunities for team members to learn, grow, and enhance their collaboration skills. This includes both formal training and informal knowledge sharing.
  8. Implement metrics to evaluate the success of collaboration efforts. Regularly review progress and make necessary adjustments to ensure alignment with goals and continuous improvement.
  9. Utilise collaboration tools that facilitate real-time communication, project management, and document sharing. Technology should enhance, not hinder, the collaboration process.
  10. Invest time in building trust and strong relationships among team members. A high-trust environment encourages open dialogue, creativity, and joint problem-solving.
  11. Consolidate ad-hoc collaborative efforts within the value framework to encourage inclusion and reduce duplication.
  12. Provide governance, infrastructure and funding to enable collaboration success.
  13. Make space for social collaboration, clarify and communicate the difference.

Creating a collaboration for value organisation with a focus on innovation, learning, and specific business outcomes requires a deliberate approach. It involves aligning strategy, engaging the right talent, fostering a collaborative culture, implementing effective processes, and leveraging appropriate technology. By emphasising these aspects, you can create a collaborative environment that delivers value and achieves the desired business outcomes.

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Karen, leveraging 25 years of international expertise, is your go-to HR consultant and speaker for organisational and people development for Future Work.

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August 9, 2023


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