Top-performing companies know what’s up when it comes to getting ahead and the secret is one we’ve known all along: “Two heads are better than one.”
The innovation struggle is real and it’s disrupting the traditional organizational structure. Now that competitive work environments are out and collaboration is in, employers need to embrace their changing, technology-driven workforce. Besides, it’s what the people want — 88 percent of millennials favor collaboration over competition. Companies who fail to adapt will quickly fall behind.
The case for collaboration
When it comes to group thinking, it seems that bigger (and more diverse) is better. According to research by Nielsen, collaboration of people in various departments and roles is like steroids for innovation. Six heads are better than one. Especially in the CPG industry, groups with six or more people produced concepts that performed 46 percent better than those with less collaboration.
Innovation is the brainchild of strategy, so make sure your employees actually have direction for all that collaborating. And coffee. Here’s how to create a collaborative work environment that drives innovation:
- Unsilo your teams (this isn’t a farm) — A silo mentality with segmented departments isn’t doing your workforce any favors, because well, your employees aren’t cows. Unsilo your teams by rallying reps from multiple departments to work together for a common goal. Teams can be formed to center around customer needs, product launches, missions or specific markets. And the best people to lead these teams aren’t generalist managers, but industry or subject-matter experts. With specialists leading specific assignments for these highly focused teams, innovation will ignite like a barn fire.
- Divide and conquer — The beauty of collaboration is using people’s strengths in a way that drives a solution. Have your teams come together for strategy discussions (the pow-wow) and then “break” to work on their assignments. This only works if teams understand the clear-cut vision and mission statement from the company’s leadership, or work efforts will end up derailed. To help identify an individual's’ strengths and most efficient way of working, personality tests (e.g. Myers-Briggs) diagnose participants with acronyms like ISTJ or ESTP. These shed light into the way people work and how they work together (so watch out for the pairs that spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E).
- Set ‘em loose, but within sight — You can’t micromanage the creative process, so it’s best to let it go. Give teams the power to establish goals and timelines for their projects. Don’t be oblivious or MIA though — check in to see that pre-established benchmarks are met, and be available for managing and coaching these groups while still allowing them to work autonomously. A trusted team is a happy team.
- Use your LMS to train and gain — If knowledge is power, then power is innovation on steroids. House all key resources and project updates in a central spot, like a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) like Bridge. Employees can access info from any device, whenever the mood strikes. And with training opportunities to cultivate skills outside of the job, you’ll have a better chance at those said groundbreaking ideas.
Without a strategy, competition will pass you, and fast. Incorporate these collaboration practices into your company culture to keep the big ideas (and the competitive edge) going. Collaboration is just one of the ways today’s workforce is different than it was just a few years ago. Discover what else you need to know to get ahead: download the ebook “7 Trends for Workforce 2020: How to Make Today’s Ever-Changing Workplace Work for You.”