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Culture of Collaboration Series – Part II

With the global pandemic now in retreat, technology continues to enable us to work and deliver for our clients. Now more than ever, the culture of collaboration must be developed and encouraged with intention. Creating a culture of collaboration is key to any organization’s ability to attract, retain and develop talent to support their vision and mission.

There are 5 elements to consider when developing a culture of collaboration:

Part II – Innovation

Developing new ideas into products and services that have intrinsic value.

Innovation is in our DNA

One of humanity’s most amazing traits is our ability to innovate and adapt to a changing environment. Over the past 2 ½ years this quality has been tested like never before.  Building on a foundation of trust, individuals and groups can come together to innovate, bringing new ideas, methods, or devices to create something new, or make something better.

Working together to accomplish a goal, deliver a service or produce a device has always been part of the human experience.  Whether hunting the wooly mammoth, crossing the rivers of north America in covered wagons, building the Model T, or putting an astronaut in space, as a species we have shown incredible ingenuity and faith in each other to accomplish great things.

Innovation’s influence on Collaboration

So, what’s new about Innovation, and why is it so important in building a culture of collaboration? The thing about innovation in the world today is that it’s taken for granted, and people assume that their ideas won’t matter because someone else may have already thought about it, or it’s just too overwhelming to think about navigating the complex structures of today’s speed to market dynamics, cost of advertising, the fickle nature of consumers or the capital requirements to make a new idea a reality.

This is where trust comes in, and how important innovation is to collaboration. You see, when it comes to collaboration, it’s the new ideas, methods, and yes, sometimes new devices that drive results. The cycle of innovation and collaboration looks something like this.

Once you have trust, you feel more open to sharing your thoughts and ideas.  Those ideas are then developed and incorporated and refined by your teammates, which builds more trust, allowing for easier adoption, and ultimately the ability to execute against your goal, mission or the delivery of your product or service in support of your end clients. 

This feedback loop then begins to amplify what collaboration feels like when the rewards of successful execution kick in. 

When people are in an environment where their ideas are heard, refined, and incorporated into the overall experience, they naturally become more connected to the culture because they had a hand in creating it. 

Exercise: The next time you’re in a team meeting and you’re trying to solve a problem, suggest taking a portion of the meeting to invite new ideas, without constraining yourself with the complexities of implementation.  Give each team member 1 minute to contribute ideas, get them all down on the whiteboard (real or virtual), and then go through each idea as a team to refine the concept, or add on to it to make it better. Sometimes the most obvious answer isn’t always the right answer. Give everyone’s ideas airtime and watch the creativity blossom!

Innovation makes it more fun!

Recently our marketing team came together to work on a new campaign. Rather than taking a top-down approach from a brand perspective, our lead marketing consultant facilitated a process that got everyone involved in the creative process, whether they held a creative position or not.  The result was a dynamic, fast-paced, and fun process that resulted in one of the best campaigns we’ve ever created and that everyone felt they contributed to.  I came away from the sessions energized and smiling. We all had a chance to innovate and build up a reserve of trust that will fuel our future collaborations. 

The bottom line – Innovation works!

By incorporating the concept of innovation in everything we do, we enrich the human experience and deliver products and services that are better and better, which results in more customer satisfaction, higher profits and happier employees.  

The elements of creating a culture of collaboration that we’re exploring in this series of posts are trust, innovation, communication, knowledge sharing and execution. As we begin to return to the office and adopt a more hybrid world of remote and onsite work, creating the culture of collaboration takes more intention and more patience as we are both connected and separated by technology at the same time. By taking our time to build on these elements one at a time, we can create a culture of collaboration and achieve greater success limited only by our imagination and ability to communicate.

Stay tuned for next month’s post on the 3rd element of collaboration, Communication – Listening, understanding, and validating each other’s opinions and ideas.

John Henning is the Chief Client Officer at Granite Solutions Groupe. He has over 35 years of leadership experience in the financial services and technology industries, and currently oversees all client account management, professional services, marketing strategy, business development and sales operations for GSG.