If there’s a single concept that modern businesses are being built around, that concept would have to be collaboration. Group effort and communication are increasingly central to the workflows of today - but there is more to collaboration than just these features. Here, we’ll review what the term collaboration really means, and how it can be leveraged in all its forms.
What Is Collaboration, Really?
Many people in the workplace misuse the term “collaboration,” assuming that it is more or less synonymous with “communication.” In actuality, while these two terms are related to a point, they are more different than many might think. In its most basic form, collaboration is simply the act of a few people working as a team toward a singular outcome.
This is where a lot of the confusion between communication and collaboration comes into play. While communication is directly related to collaboration, it serves more as a tool to enable effective collaboration habits than it does a synonym for these habits.
There are also a few different levels of collaboration that a business can leverage:
- Simple Collaboration - This is the most basic form of collaboration, the kind that is leveraged via quick communications (like instant messages). While these tools can be easily misused to become a source of distraction in some cases, they can provide some significant benefits to a team’s cooperation and communication towards a goal.
- Document Collaboration - In the next step up on in the collaboration hierarchy, document collaboration expands upon the sharing of ideas into the creation of an actual product by multiple users working together. Giving these multiple users the capability to work as though they were side-by-side without regard to the actual distance between them has proved to be a hugely successful capability.
- Structured Collaboration - This final kind of collaboration is one that almost everyone has participated in, whether they were aware of it at the time or not. All it requires is for them to have filled out a form, a document that many people work on and contribute to when its task has been completed. Other collaborative projects that depend on some kind of structure could even be seen in the average meeting. After all, a meeting is only an assembly of people committed to the same endeavor. As long as the meeting has an implicitly stated goal attached to it, it can be considered collaboration - how effective that collaboration is, that’s another matter entirely.
Why is Collaboration So Important?
A business that actively supports collaborative behaviors in a way that enables them to be exercised could be blessed with improvements in many considerations. For instance, the classic analogy that “two heads are better than one,” colorfully describes the use of collaboration as a source of greater success and satisfaction in accomplishing a given task. However, there is no understating how much easier it is to be productive with modern collaborative tools, like a business-specific intranet or the Internet itself.
So collaboration can deliver you and your team with better work, done faster, with more opportunities to keep your team engaged.
Interested in learning more about how collaboration could apply to your business’ processes? Reach out to Converging Networks Group at (815) 929-9850.