Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Collaboration and The Business Of Technology

Following is an excerpt from my new book, The New Technology Paradigm, intended to spark thought and discussion on the all-important subject of collaboration in business.


We’re all familiar with examples of successful collaboration, from business, military and sports arenas to politics and personal life. It is absolutely awe-inspiring what can be done, sometimes on a massive scale, when everyone is “bought in” and working for the same goal. We also are familiar with many of the elements that are necessary for completing a group project successfully—including strong leadership, clear communication, inspiration, respect, resiliency, and hard work. I would just like to take a moment here to highlight a few of the more important elements of successful collaboration.

The Importance of Leadership. Of course, strong leadership is always critical to project success. Successful projects are led by someone who has a clear vision, is passionately convinced that the project will work, and is able to transmit that passion to his or her team. This gives individual members the enthusiasm and focus they need to achieve the goal together. The leader is also able to transmit the courage to get started, to take risks, and to persevere when the going gets rough. He or she is able to keep the team focused on the goal.

Open Communication. Above all, the leader creates an atmosphere of open communication. Leaders who give their teams a say can often create a buy-in beyond the deliverable. On the other hand, teams without a say will typically say nothing. How do you get your team bought in? How do you create the kind of commitment that gets results? By asking for honest feedback. By being humble enough to say, “This is what we’ve come up with so far, but we’re open to suggestions.” If you want to make this even more personal, you can ask each member of the team for his or her feedback: “What do you think, Bob?” or “What’s your take on this, Sally?”

The leader is also open and flexible but able to bring the group back to the task at hand. As a result of strong leadership, everyone has clear expectations about their part in the project and a clear vision of the final goal.

Questions for Leaders. Remember, everyone is a potential leader in his or her own sphere of influence. Regardless of your level of leadership, here are some important questions to ask yourself: Do you inspire your team? Do you believe in the project? Do you involve others in the challenges and direction of the project? Do you command respect? Are you really committed? Do you have ownership of the project beyond the completion date? If you have all these qualities, more than likely you will be able to transmit the energy and enthusiasm that will lead to effective collaboration and successful completion of the project.

Next time I will discuss some of the most critical factors in the art of clear communication. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about these and other subjects related to business success, just click here to order my book, The New Technology Paradigm: Transforming IT With Passion, Courage, and Collaboration.