I think the most understood word right now in the English language is the word collaboration.
Here are some examples of how I’ve seen it used.
We collaborated on ideas together by shouting out what’s on our mind during a meeting.
We collaborated by sharing a comment on a Facebook page.
We collaborated by posting a Tweet with a hashtag so others could see our idea.
We collaborated with our marketing and sales departments on improving the customer experience with a journey map.
We collaborated on better ways of improving the results at the end of our project.
We collaborated in real time with customers using an agile approach with team members using smartboards, desktop screen sharing, and team live chat.
Which is the best definition?
The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And, too often those eyes are impaired with complacency that restrict themselves from creating a leaner, more productive, and smarter way of helping their team reach their goals.
Collaboration to me is a process, not just a noun.
It’s a carefully customized approach to filtering the best ideas to solve real problems in real time. You would never say “let me get back to you in a couple months.” Either the idea is good or it’s not. Collecting them is the easiest part. Saying no is much harder. And you don’t need to hire a consulting firm in order to help prioritize each move as long as you have a defined decision making process to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Collaboration requires better tools.
The latest hardware, SaaS (software as a solution) tools, and apps have many different features that enable collaboration, but not all of them are as user friendly. Roadblocks to collaborating with new tools include device cohesiveness (everyone is using the same device, operating system, etc.), tool selection (tech/software/app), and training the team on how to use them effectively inside of your collaborative decision making process.
Collaboration requires alignment on the tools.
Everyone has their own favorite tool they will want to use. There becomes a point when the team leader has to say, “We are using X tool, end of story.” But leaders who overlook this have their team members arguing over which feature is better, rather than intentionally solving the problems at the start.
Watch this interview with Jeff Lowe, executive with SMART Technologies who nails the talking points on how technology is changing the landscape for high performing teams.
Think about which area of focus your team needs the most help. Is it the process, the tools, or alignment on the tools? Ask your team. I’m confident they will want to collaborate with you.