Distributed to Leadership, Business, Work
How to Spark Innovative Collaboration
A strategic leadership focus on collaboration in digital transformation initiatives
In this article, I want to share my thoughts stemming from my experience on how to ignite collaboration leading innovation in the workplace, particularly in the digital transformation initiatives where innovation truly matter.
We know that the term collaboration is overused and loses its significance nowadays, especially with the emergence of internet technologies and digital transformation initiatives.
For example, social media is considered collaborative or collaboration tools. In reality, these so-called social media collaboration tools have little to do with collaboration.
Most of us consider social media tools as practical, useful, and highly valuable for collaboration purposes. However, when we carefully examine these tools, we can see that they are more information-sharing tools rather than actual collaboration tools.
It may sound traditional but from my experience, in the workplace, the most productive and impactful collaboration tools are face to face meetings, telephone, and video conferencing.
In its true meaning, collaboration refers to a diverse team of people working together for mutual goals to achieve successful and synergistic outcomes. The team, mutual goals, and synergistic outcomes are essential requirements in digital transformation initiatives.
The team focus is, of course, on the work and professional aspect of the collaboration rather than entertainment or hobbies. Therefore, social media adds very little value to the digital transformation initiatives.
In the workplace, collaboration may take place in different modes and formats. One example is two or more people sharing ideas for a project plan. At a basic level, people may also collaborate by writing using various documentation tools such as Box, Google docs, or network version of Microsoft Office products.
In our programs we used a number of emerging and popular knowledge sharing tools such as Slack, Trello, Webex, and Messenger. These tools are available in PCs and mobile devices and can help the team share their documents in an efficient way. These tools can improve communication leading to better collaboration.
Creating synergy is one of the main goals for collaboration in these transformation environments. Collaboration is essential to create synergy in diverse teams of digital transformation initiatives.
Leaders, in these dynamic environments, collaborate widely and productively to reach synergistic goals. They motivate team members to collaborate effectively and efficiently by pointing out the common goals and making them compelling for collaboration. Related to collaboration, I want to highlight the powerful metaphor of fusion.
Fusion is the most advanced and effective type of collaboration especially required for complex and complicated initiatives with unique project goals and business focus.
Creating fusion-based collaboration can be challenging due to economic, social, and political reasons in large business organisations. As leaders, with extensive business, technical, and people skills, we have an advantage to create fusion-based collaboration in diverse digital transformation programs.
Leadership in these challenging environments requires a passion and entrepreneurial spirit for achieving business goals using fusion principles. The reason we focus on fusion is diversity and inclusiveness aspects. Strong people skills are essential to be successful to create and deal with diversity.
I provided my views on fusion and diversity in this article.
Fusion, Diversity, & Innovation
How Fusion Principles Improve Diversity & Innovation at Work
Leadership Approach to Collaboration
Leaders don’t wait for fusion to happen by itself. We know that nothing can happen by itself. Naturally, someone with leadership and architectural skills must initiate it with focused action. This action-oriented focus on fusion is one of the outstanding characteristics of strategic leaders in these challenging business environments.
Once leaders initiate fusion and invite collaborators to structured activities, then the process is maintained with necessary communication and engagement rules.
Effective communication is a critical enabler of collaboration goals. Depending on the project environments (local or remote), both verbal and written communication types are essential for effective collaboration to happen.
Collaboration for co-located teams are usually conducted on face to face and can primarily be dynamic in delivery. However, geographically distant teams usually use video conferencing, telephone, chat programs, email or some agile collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, and Webex.
In remote teams, written communication is critical. Written communications can create some challenges, such as a careless piece of writing may cause some offense and kill the spirit of collaboration. Therefore, people-skilled and politically astute leaders play an essential role in facilitating these types of communication by moderating communication channels delicately.
Once the leaders initiate and enable collaboration goals, they need to maintain the desired outcomes with the support of diversely skilled teams. Even though the leaders set the initial team and processes to support the team activities, it is also the responsibilities of other team members to contribute to the goals set for collaborative plans. These skilled teams can collectively create the necessary process and procedures to maintain collaborative activities. They find ways to reach consensus.
To this end, leaders also take the role of motivators to keep the transformation teams inspired by showing impactful vision and strategic goals. Leadership vision can have strong impact for motivating teams leading to collaboration.
By focusing on productive collaboration at various levels, leaders leverage insights from cross-functional teams and community of practices to create differentiated value propositions for digital transformation goals.
By undertaking many tasks to initiate and maintain collaboration, leaders keep repeating these activities multiple times with multiple teams and integrate these teams to aggregate more intensive collaboration.
The value of collaboration is experienced with multiple and constant repetitions. Successful repetitions make ripple effects for growing success. With success in the workplace, the team members can grow the collaborative culture based on fusion principles aligned with the business organizations’ ecosystem, strategic and mission critical business goals.
This collaborative culture in the workplace can be invaluable. When collaborative culture starts flourishing using fusion-based collaboration with genuine diversity and inclusiveness, we start experiencing innovation in the ecosystem. Innovative collaboration is a fundamental success factor for digital transformation initiatives. If collaborative innovation stops in a team for any reason, the specific digital transformation initiative will most likely fail.