SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Gary Audin | August 26, 2016 |

 
   

Collaboration Is a Behavior, Not a Technology

Collaboration Is a Behavior, Not a Technology With organizational silos, employees can become insular and distrustful of other employees or departments; collaboration is the answer.

With organizational silos, employees can become insular and distrustful of other employees or departments; collaboration is the answer.

The title of this piece became clear to me after listening to a presentation by Margaret Heffernan, author of "A Bigger Prize: How Can We Do Better that the Competition." In her presentation, she spoke of competition among groups who instead should be collaborating.

Competition fosters poor behaviors including cheating, corruption, inequality, and increased risk. She believes that generosity, trust, and time are what are needed, whether the organization is a start-up or mature business. She believes that good collaboration can produce creativity (no idea should automatically be discounted), spark innovation, reinforce the social fabric of work, and in the end have the participants feel much better than winning your viewpoint.

Collaborative Leadership

Leadership is important. Do you lead, or dictate? Are you a global connector or are you bypassed in collaboration efforts? Harvard Business Review's 10 Must Reads On Collaboration includes an article that defines "collaborative leadership" as "the capacity to engage people and groups outside one's formal control and inspire them to work toward common goals -- despite differences in convictions, cultural values, and operating norms. Most people understand intuitively that collaborative leadership is the opposite of the old command-and-control model, but the differences with a consensus-based approach are more nuanced."

Collaborative leadership style has the following attributes:

  • The organization's structure should be a dispersed, cross-organizational network
  • Employees at all levels and stakeholders should have the relevant information independent of their location
  • The authority for leadership should be clear and well understood
  • Accountability and control should be focused on the performance in achieving goals
  • This type of leadership works best for diverse groups with cross-unit and cross-business work, fostering innovation and creativity

As a collaborative leader, you should:

  • Look back to review any collaborative projects that you have terminated, why, and in what way; you may have already discouraged future collaborations that you may want to initiate.
  • Consider whether you can change the collaboration members effectively while retaining the project energy and focus.
  • Evaluate whether the right people know they can come to a decision.
  • Look at whether debating is encouraged with the understanding that the idea is to come to a decision, not stagnate.
Working in Silos Defeats Collaboration

Organizational silos are not unique to any size organization. The classic farmer's silo is used to separate different types of grain. Organizational silos that separate different functions and employees are seldom benign or beneficial. When employees try to collaborate with people outside of their "silo," they become difficult to work with effectively. It can be uncomfortable, and trust is often an issue.

Organizational silos can be like fortresses within a company, defending their territory, or not feeling responsible for projects outside their silo, and causing serious problems that may not be discovered until the damage is done. Once in a silo, it is hard to break free and remain in your present job. Those remaining in the silo may not trust you anymore.

An organizational silo can be made up of people in one department, or can extend across departments. Silos can separate executive employers from front-line workers. They can be geographical with workers in different offices conflicting with or competing against each other. Any organizational culture that allows or encourages silos will see its IT function and data consumed by this syndrome. Silos can cause any collaboration project to fail or never get started.

When silos solidify, members can become insular and distrustful of other employees or departments (i.e. other silos). Once trust is lost, it becomes increasingly difficult for groups to work together and regain trust. Trust makes collaboration possible. Companies can create environments that accidently allow silos to grow. Poor direction from the top regarding meetings and formal communications are seen as permission for employees to form silos.

The challenge with organizational silos is that silo members need to stop protecting what exists and begin to embrace what is possible. The common refrain of "that's the way we've always done it" does not solve problems.

Focus on innovation for mutual survival. Convince the members to work together toward a common goal by creating an innovation agenda that all employees can form into a collaborative team. Form a committee that is responsible for dismantling the silos and develop and encourage practices that require communications and collaboration. Increase the communications (there are plenty UC&C tools) among management and employees to increase trust and solve the problems.

How you produce a comfortable culture for collaboration is discussed in Dr. Heffernan's video interview that can be viewed here. Heffernan has also given a TED talk, "Dare to Disagree," which I recommend viewing for more on this topic.





COMMENTS




October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.