At Nulab, our software Backlog, Cacoo, and Typetalk, are centered around the essence of collaboration. In 2010, we held conferences around Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka) that touched on our very own collaboration process at work. Our conferences were shaped by the World Cafe approach, a social technology that drives engaging and collaborative conversations, and it created a crowd of incredibly interactive audience who were equally as excited as we were to discover new ideas.
In preparation for the conferences, our team further researched on collaboration techniques with the help of our friends at a human development company. We developed a mechanism for analyzing the degree of effectiveness in team collaborations. The development of which involved four steps:
- Collecting key elements of successful collaboration from a sample of a hundred project managers through interviews.
- Generating a thorough questionnaire with the key elements and testing them with a group size in the hundreds.
- Selecting the top four elements from the questionnaire results by factor analysis.
- Holding a new round of interviews, analyzing results, and developing a new set of 24 questions based on the top four elements gathered from previous results.
Concluding our research, we arrived at these four elements that we found to be the most vital for successful team collaboration.
Every team member should share the team’s overall goal and direction, regardless of their skill and passion. This is called having a “Common Mission”. When the team shares a common mission, team collaboration will have a higher success rate in yielding productive outcomes.
Team members must learn to share their individual ideas even if they are not perfect, as well as to listen and be receptive to ideas that might be different or fall short of expectations. Keeping an open mind in brainstorming and group discussions can stimulate the flow of ideas, lead to the discovery of new perspectives, and ultimately shape an effective collaboration effort.
A great collaborative team should consist of members of diverse strengths. These strengths, however different, should also complement each other like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Members with complementary strengths will be able to capitalize on their teammates’ skills and talents and in turn supplement the strengths of their peers. In this way, collaboration will not only spur individual growth but the overall growth of the team.
“Wholeness” in this regard refers to a dedicated group effort. This happens to be my favorite of the four elements in team collaboration. Every problem or issue needs to be touched by every member, and be collectively solved as a team. No challenge should be tackled by the abilities of an individual alone.
Check your team’s collaborative success with the four elements mentioned above.
- Does your team share a “Common Mission”?
- Do you and your co-workers have an “Open Mind”?
- Do you and your teammates possess “Complementary Strengths”?
- Does your team maintain a “Wholeness”?
Have you experienced success in team collaborations? Share your team’s collaborative experience with us by posting in the comment below.