Collaborating with others is crucial for getting meaningful goals accomplished, especially in today’s work environment where we are increasingly interdependent on each other. Trying to be collaborate all the time however, responding to incoming requests as they come in, being constantly available and responsive on e-mail and Instant Messaging and ad-hoc interactions, would leave us drained and would be at the detriment of our individual focused effort, not to mention that it would also reduce the effectiveness of our collaborative effort. So how can we solve this puzzle and fully leverage our collaborative effort while staying energized and maintaining our ability to focus, imagine, and create?
Have you ever considered creating a Collaboration Zone™? This means dedicating time for collaborative effort. During this time you are fully collaborative and open for interactions with others. These collaboration sessions can be structured or ad-hoc, and probably a combination of the two.
Make your Collaboration Zone™ shine
Here are three ways to make your Collaboration Zone™ shine and get the most out of team work:
- First: Make it known to your team that you are in the Collaborative Zone™. Whether this means scheduling “office hours” or informally indicating your availability via your instant messaging status, your open door, or your bowl of M&M’s at your desk (or fruits and nuts, fresh or dried, for a healthier environment). Occasionally, you might even take a walk around the office and see who is available for some brainstorming or informal learning.
- Second: Move from e-mail to more modern and effective collaboration technologies, so that collaboration and valuable knowledge don’t get buried in e-mail, and so that collaboration doesn’t stop when you are out of the Collaboration Zone™. Consider blogs, wikis, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Apps, and social tools such as Chatter from Salesforce.com and Jive from Jive Software, among others. The Collaboration Zone™ is a great time for live interactions, however, ideas and breakthroughs are likely to happen unexpectedly well after these interactions. Collaboration technologies enable everyone to continue to collaborate anytime and from anywhere.
- Third: Rethink meetings and transform them into highly effective working sessions with clear purpose. Meetings can be a great platform for collaborating. There are four elements that need to be explored however to make meetings so. First is facilitation and participation skill development. Second is the use of both in-person and virtual meetings in conjunction of the collaboration technologies mentioned above to create the ultimate interactions irrelevant of time and space. Third is being strategic and focusing meetings on the issues that will create results. And fourth, going after the root causes of ineffective meetings and stopping our obsession with the symptoms.