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Is Collaboration the new workplace and business model?

Collaboration isn’t the buzzword of the week. It’s the NEW workplace and business model, because effective collaboration is intrinsic to how well an organization (big or small) will perform over time, and that includes internal collaboration across functional teams, departments or business units, as well as, external collaboration with potential partners, contractors, suppliers, customers, and even at times, with competitors (referred to as co-petition).
Collaboration is often viewed as “a nice to have” by businesses and entrepreneurs. But make no mistake: collaboration bring unbelievable competitive advantage to your business. Businesses and individuals that have learned to work collaboratively have seen startling results. They have greater agility, make better decisions and are way more productive.
Collaboration is simple to understand and should be second nature to all of us. It means we do something better, often bigger, when we do it together, and we're likely to accomplish something that neither party could accomplish on its own.  Yet it is difficult to attain. 
We are surrounded by potential partners in our every day lives: colleagues, neighbors, friends, fellow volunteers.  But powerful partnerships – the kind in which you and a collaborator regularly work together, reach goals together you never could have accomplished apart, and gain the deep satisfaction only such an alliance can bring  are elusive. 
We are crowded in offices, airports, subways – frequently within arm’s reach of dozens of people – but often on a very lonely pursuit.  Wired? Yes, Networked Yes, Collaborating?  Not much. 
Why Collaborate?  Humans are made for collaboration:  
On a personal level:
  • Our blood pressure rises and falls depending on who is nearby.
  • The amount we eat depends a lot on the amount eaten by those with whom we dine.
  • We laugh not so much because it is funny but because laughter is a kind of a social glue – a person is 30 times more likely to laugh when he’s with somebody than when he is alone.
  • We are designed for dialogue rather than monologue.
  • Isolation is bad for us – it poses dangers as serious as cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or lack of exercise.  
On a business Level
  • In the workplace, employees with collaborative relationships are 42 more likely to stay with their current employer compared to those with no partnerships.  
  • Those who feel well-teamed are substantially more engaged at work  (or in their business) – generating higher customer scores and better safety, retention, creativity, productivity and profitability – and experience a greater level of happiness. 
  • Effective Collaboration in intrinsic to how well an organization (big or small) will perform over time.
  • Collaboration brings unbelievable competitive advantage to the business by encouraging the exchange of ideas and by promoting interaction.

Internal Collaboration and Social Networking – Facebook-Like World Migrating to Business

Workplace collaboration is starting to look like consumer social networks such as Facebook, with business colleagues going online to share ideas, content and more.  Not surprisingly, many of the early adopters and providers of internal collaborative “social media like” tools and software have been IT Companies: Google, Cisco, Salesforce, IBM, and Microsoft just to name a few.  

Companies are introducing new social networking initiatives as they attempt to contain employee turnover, improve internal communication, boost innovation, promote teamwork and gain a competitive edge.  
A great example of that is Dell. To promote employee interaction and create a sense of corporate identity, Dell has an online employee community on Facebook.  While this helps the employees connect outside the office space, the company is also in the process of creating a similar platform for internal use by the employees. According to a Dell employee: their primary aim for using social computing in the workplace is to increase the level of engagement with all of their employees regardless of where they sit in the organization and thus create a better work environment for them.
Organizations big and small are realizing that by connecting people they are improving customer service, cultivating expertise, fostering a caring work environment, improving information access, accelerating innovation and driving a competitive edge
Web 1.0 was about giving us access to content and we quickly learnt how to use search engine to find the content we were looking for, and if we wanted to keep up to date with some specific site/page then we set up an RSS feed. Web 2.0 is all about giving us access to people and engaging with one another.
It’s all boils down to the fact that at the end of the day, social media and collaboration (internal or external) to an organization isn’t about the tools… it’s about people!
Recommended Reading: "Power of 2 – How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life."
Next week’s article will be about the critical elements for successful collaboration and the different collaboration styles between men and women.  If you are interested in reading additional articles on Social Media Marketing, Collaboration and Joint Ventures, please go to:


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