Monday, August 24, 2015

Three Aspects of Effective Collaboration in a Digital Organization

Cross-silo or cross-divisional collaboration is crucial to building dynamic digital capabilities.

The very characteristics of the digital age are hyperconnectivity and interdependence. The paradox is that people from every corner of the earth can co-create the knowledge, collaborate to overcome common challenges facing in human society seamlessly, they would also compete for the resource or works from anywhere, which causes hyper-competition as well.  At an organizational level, silo thinking becomes the very obstacle to stifle innovation and stop the business from moving up the maturity level. From the management perspective, what should you do to break down barriers so that talented people can collaborate more effectively?

Communication: Communication is a very powerful tool in breaking barriers. Start by identifying the barriers you think hinder effective collaboration and work on them. For example, if it's to do with knowledge, close the gap and instill a greater understanding of issues that you want to collaborate on. Leverage collaboration technology tools to accelerate strategy delivery. Try horizontal and vertical open communication to reach out to your followers. Be reasonably and appropriately available. Communicate gratitude for others' contributions. Assure vision and strategy to achieve it are well communicated. Define and implement collaboration tools to be used. Designate duties or accept the duties assigned. State limitations if unable to accomplish a duty and enroll team member to assist. Meet deadlines, accept suggestions, give feedback. Demonstrate accountability. Practice self-awareness and accept vulnerability – You not only need to understand your own tendencies and the value but also, you need to be vulnerable to hearing the ideas challenged from a viewpoint different than your own.

Delegation: Leadership is about delegation, and there is a logical scenario to good delegation practice. Define the job for yourself. Before you can assign a task to someone else and provide the necessary support and guidance to successfully complete it, you must know exactly what you want; and you must be able to describe it clearly, completely, and concisely to your subordinate. Unclear, ambiguous delegation inevitably lead to unsatisfactory results. Know what you want BEFORE you delegate to someone else. Find the right person to do the job. This does not mean giving important assignments only the high performers on your team, but also to those who need a chance to prove themselves or redeem themselves from past shortcomings. Explain clearly and efficiently what you expect. This means defining WHAT you want and need. It does not mean telling someone how to do it your way. This is giving them enough information to figure out how to do it their way. Get agreement from the person to whom you delegate the task to accept responsibility and accountability for the job. This should be a free and willing statement that he/she understands what you are asking for and a willingness to undertake the task.

Training and rewarding: Acknowledge and reward all your subordinates when they do the work, regardless of the success of the project. That means that you publicly, honestly, and sincerely thank everyone who contributes to your success even when results are not perfect, and even when they don't meet your standards of accomplishment. A thank you today means he/she will try harder tomorrow. You also continue to support subordinates and provide training, materials, and tools to accomplish the work you delegated and reached the common goals of the team. It DOES NOT mean to check up. You do not need to micro-manage your subordinates to build your team and achieve your goals. What you do is to communicate with them to make sure they have the time, resources, and encouragement to do the job. And when the work is well done, they get rewards and recognition.

Cross-silo or cross-divisional collaboration is crucial to building dynamic digital capabilities. It is imperative that we be willing to seek out help, break down silos, and harness cross-functional collaboration as we work to generate new ideas or solve problems. For so long, we have been taught to not show weakness or 'fake it till you make it' and while the origin of these adages may have been positive, it can be difficult for us to show a willingness to be vulnerable and admit that we may not know all of the answers. Ultimately, that is not a sign of weakness but rather an open door to illustrate the value of developing the answer with a colleague or sharing the power of diverse perspectives to shape a new idea or solution. Strategically, cross-functional collaboration to delight customers and engage employees are critical for digital transformation and businesses’ long-term prosperity.


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