Tactical Advice

What Drives Success in a Collaborative Environment?

Setting ground rules and creating business objectives is critical to establishing a productive collaboration process.
What Drives Success in a Collaborative Environment?
Credit: iStock/ThinkStockPhotos

Putting a collaboration initiative to work and reaping the full benefits requires more than integrated IT systems. There’s also the cultural side of the equation, including developing incentives, achieving buy-in from leaders, addressing change management issues, designating champions, measuring results against key benchmarks and training employees to use collaboration tools effectively.

Evan Rosen, author of The Culture of Collaboration, says that any successful collaboration initiative requires strategic thinking and a clearly defined structure from the start. Senior executives must fully support the initiative. Workers must know what they can share and what they can’t share — and understand how and when interaction will take place.

Participants must also recognize that collaboration is ultimately about results over hierarchy. It’s essential to map processes and workflows and understand how various tools and technologies — especially when they are combined — “unleash both a formal exchange of information as well as unstructured brainstorming and innovation,” Rosen explains.

Accenture Managing Director Mary Hamilton says that an organization must identify the right metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). It must also understand how to drive behavioral change through policies, rewards, incentives and other tools.

“It’s important to identify groups that use collaboration effectively and find out what they are doing differently or better,” she says. “Analytics is an important tool in providing definitive answers,” she explains. “Performance reviews and incentives that focus on collaborative type behaviors help drive change.”

CDW Practice Lead Ken Snyder says that training is also a critical element in achieving success. “People might know how to use the technology but it doesn’t mean they understand the nuances and how to get the most out of it,” he says. However, it’s important to structure learning and training in new and different ways within a collaborative work environment.

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About the Author

Samuel Greengard

Samuel is a business and technology writer based in West Linn, Oregon. For more information, visit his website: www.greengard.com and follow him on and Twitter:

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