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Arment Dietrich

Collaborate: Five Heads are Better than One

By: Arment Dietrich | April 8, 2013 | 
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Collaborate- Five Heads are Better than OneInternal collaboration is essential in today’s marketplace.

The world is moving too quickly; products and services are changing before our eyes every day.

The pace of life feels frantic.

We need to be able to collaborate.

If we don’t put our heads together and share ideas and viewpoints, we risk missing something essential in the blur of the hours racing by in any given day.

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

Go Together

Arment Dietrich works virtually, which means we don’t see one other face-to-face very often. But we do collaborate. More and more, these days, I find myself Skyping co-workers to ask for input and chatting online in social forums with people whose opinions have proven valuable during the past four years.

I need other minds and other perspectives.

You see, I fall in love with my ideas. And, I become blind to their imperfections. It takes the viewpoints of others to help me see the idea I have been flirting with just won’t work or needs adjustment.

Sometimes it takes the peals of laughter from my coworkers as I proudly introduce a fledgling scheme. Sometimes it’s the voices of reason from colleagues who have “been-there-done-that-and-it didn’t-work” or the boss pointing out the numbers, try as I might, won’t stretch THAT far.

Humor

Sometimes it’s the humor. Gallows humor for those tough client days. Silly humor for exhaustion and nerves stretched tight, vibrating like high-tensile wire. Pet humor, which makes me smile in the moment and cry later when I look around and realize my old lady dog really isn’t coming home this time.

Sometimes it’s the novelty of a thought process utterly different from my own.

We’re a small team, committed to providing effective integrated marketing communications, and to working virtually. We’re dedicated to building business and to working together, as well as staying attuned to the fast pace and changes of both online and offline worlds.

Do we struggle at times? Absolutely. But we reach out, using the tools technology makes possible, to connect and talk and laugh and share. That breaks down barriers and builds trust. We’re a social business.

Social Business

Social business depends on effective internal collaboration.

Jamie Notter, co-author of Humanize, talks about the importance of internal collaboration today, describing the escalating need for people and departments to collaborate effectively. He predicts, as leaders start paying attention to the concept of “social business,” they will employ tools to improve internal collaboration.

He also expects they will over-rely on technology to solve problems highlighted by the process of internal collaboration. Notter cautions online tools won’t solve silo issues or resolve conflict. His point is well taken. So how do you foster effective internal collaboration in your organization? How do you break down the silos and create both trust and a flow of information?

Collaborate

Remember Relationships

Don’t let the technology blind you to the importance of building relationships with your colleagues. Understand you are dealing with other human beings who are juggling their own long lists of priorities. Jamie Notter advises getting people together face-to-face to address conflicts. Failing that, use online tools such as Skype that provide nearly face-to-face functionality, to address points of conflict, ask questions, and really listen to the answers.

Be Flexible

Today’s crazy schedules make flexibility essential. Understand the demands of your co-workers. Be willing to be flexible in when and how you meet, what you ask of your colleagues, and your timeframe in getting their input.

Make it Reciprocal

Reciprocity is key. Collaboration requires give and take so understand your co-workers will need your help, your input, your honesty, and your patience. Be prepared to supply all of those ingredients and to be generous, with both time and attention, when asked to collaborate with a colleague.

Schedule Regular Sessions

Make sure you add regular collaboration sessions to your calendar. It’s all too easy to let time go by without meeting. Adding your collaboration sessions as regular events is critical. Schedule those as part of the daily, weekly, or monthly events you attend and then make sure you spend the time with your collaborators. Over time, relationships develop, foolish ideas are debunked, and excellent solutions created.

Don’t Leave Out the Humor

Like the lubricant that keeps moving parts of machinery functioning smoothly, humor serves to break tension, provide needed release, and refocus attention. Enjoy the laughter. Watch your internal collaboration sessions yield positive and effective results!

How are you using internal collaboration in your company? What other tips would you offer? Know any good jokes?

56 comments
dbvickery
dbvickery

Humor does go a long way! And taking more interest in personal lives, goals, and milestones helps, too.

We used MSN chat for the longest for doing a lot of our collaboration. We are experimenting with a couple other "behind the firewall" solutions, but I still like G+ for taking it from chat to Hangout really quickly.

allenmireles
allenmireles

@iarlabyrne Thanks for the retweet. Really appreciate it. Are you doing any form of internal collaboration?

Dr_Rae
Dr_Rae

Thank you Allen for sharing your thoughts on "...using internal collaboration..". 

My company is moving from 'I-centric' to 'we-centric' collaboration thanks to Judith E. Glaser author of 'Creating We: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking and Build a Healthy, Thriving Organization'  http://tinyurl.com/c2rybrn  sharing our "stress literacy" project via strategic partnerships.

lizreusswig
lizreusswig

@allenmireles Such a great post!  As a solopreneur, it's so easy for me to get caught up in the "I have to do EVERYTHING" mode.  Having those collaborative relationships is very, very important!!

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

I worked remotely for seven years and learned early on that it was critical to reach out to others on the team. The load was too big for just one person and it made sense to ask for help for all of the reasons you listed.

bdorman264
bdorman264

The lone wolf mentality can only carry you so far; my experience has been if you want sustainability you better have a good team around you and the 'right' peer group that fosters collaboration. 

1 + 1 = 3, right?  

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman

What a great post...and a great reminder why collaboration is so important.  I especially like the humour aspect - so important in breaking the ice, making people feel comfortable and overall making it a great company to work for.

giesencreative
giesencreative

I like the idea of regular collaboration sessions. Come to think of it, I think our weekly team meetings are a lot more productive when we're generating ideas rather than just updating each other on what we're working on.

belllindsay
belllindsay

Humour is definitely key. I could be having the worst day ever and a quick Skype chat with a collegaue is all it takes to shake it off and get back on track. It takes *effort* to staty connected when you work virtually, but it's so vital to help everyone feel like part of a team. 

NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean

I absolutely loved this post. I work remotely as well and sometimes what we think is the best idea in the world is just not going to make it. If you can't bounce your ideas off others, it's sometimes dangerous ground. And the humor is what I miss the most. It gets us through those tough, tense times when deadlines are looming, and it's a reality check to share those times with people who understand. Thanks for a great post! 

AmyVernon
AmyVernon

@dnelson747 aha! :) Great to see you! Check out our upcoming events in our @Meetup group. We have some great panel discussions soon. :)

martinwaxman
martinwaxman

@SpinSucks Happy too. Had a good one - and did a lot of grading for my soc media class. You?

Matt_Cerms
Matt_Cerms

@SpinSucks You nailed it. I do think this mindset/strategy is part of company culture. Has to be established/instilled from beginning.

Dr_Rae
Dr_Rae

My pleasure Allen...  Your encouragement, and your support are appreciated! 

My company, and I are 'in-process' with this approach.  

To get started, ''Lessons learned on we-centricity' is going to be posted tomorrow here  http://tinyurl.com/ycbmgra

Your comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome...  ~Rae

belllindsay
belllindsay

@allenmireles @giesencreative I LOVE brainstorming (watch for my post on the subject coming up soon) - it's my all time favourite thing to do. Toss out the most ridiculous idea possible - you can always pull back, it's much much harder to push outwards.