Is collaboration really that important? Very much so, say the residents of small Italian town Cesena, whose collaborative efforts have made international headlines. In the town that boasts a population of only 97,000, one thousand residents gathered in the main square to perform, together, the Foo Figher’s hit song ‘Learn to Fly’. They were desperately hoping that their stunt might convince the band to perform in their town, despite the fact that towns of their size rarely, if ever, attract international acts. The result? Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighers responded directly to the fans via a video on Youtube, in Italian no less, promising that the band would perform in Cesena.
Would any of this have been possible without collaboration? Absolutely not. But whilst most of us at organisations far and wide wouldn’t have a hope of pulling off a stunt half as impressive as the residents of Cesena, we can still profoundly benefit from improved collaboration. Here’s why:
Collaboration helps to create a learning culture
Given the phenomenal rate of change sweeping today’s business world, organisations that do not adopt a learning culture are doomed to fail. Organisations are deemed to have a learning culture if they encourage, and support, employees to develop knowledge and competence through continuous learning. As up to 80% of learning is achieved through collaboration, what better way to encourage a learning culture than through encouraging better, and more, collaboration amongst employees and leaders?
It also helps to unleash creative problem solving
If you gave a problem to one person of very high intelligence, or numerous people of low intelligence, who would solve it first? Although conventional wisdom would have you believe that intelligence is all that matters, in fact, more effective and creative problem solving happens when you combine different resources and talents. Different perspectives are the key to solving complex organisational problems, especially where the outcomes affects multiple stakeholders, which most decisions in organisations do. So if you want a problem solved – get a cross-disciplinary team in the room to collaborate and watch the solution unfold before your eyes.
Collaboration also encourages healthy disagreement
Although many would shy away from the suggestion of increasing disagreements in the workplace, some level of disagreement is in fact necessary to ensure that all ideas are given due consideration. For example, if a decision on a particular issue is made in isolation, it may, depending on the person making it, have a, say, 50% chance of being the correct decision. If, however, the decision was articulated, then debated amongst others and improvements suggested, it would have a much higher chance of being a better decision for the organisation. Therefore, although disagreement can be uncomfortable and time consuming, it is also necessary to ensure the best outcomes.
Tempting as it may be to take the solo road in decision making, people, and organisations, greatly benefit from collaboration. So if you want a Foo Fighters type outcome for your organisation, ensure you maximise collaboration for maximum results.