High-performance collaboration


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In a earlier post The network is the innovator, the power that the network effect has on innovation was examined. Based in-part on an essay written in 2005 by Phillip Evans and Bob Wolf of the Boston Consulting Group titled Collaboration Rules, companies that focus on lowering their transaction costs of collaboration are found to be far more successful at innovation than are those that focus on other things such as monetary incentives.

But how do companies promote high-performance collaboration? What is the role of their leadership teams in facilitating this network? One important way is to create an environment where collaboration thrives. According to authors Phillip Evans and Bob Wolf, companies laying the groundwork for high-performance groundwork should follow these five principles:

  1. Deploy pervasive collaborative technology. Keep it simple and open. Tools should work together through common standards and be as compatible as possible with those of the rest of the world.
  2. Keep work visible. unless there is a really good reason not to, let everybody see everybody’s real work. Let people learn to filter and sort for themselves. Don’t abstract, summarize or channel.
  3. Build communities of trust.   When people trust one another, they are more likely to collaborate freely and productively. When people trust their organizations, they are more likely to give of themselves now in anticipation of future reward.
  4. Think modularly. Reengineering was about thinking linearly: managing the end-to-end process instead of discrete functions. That approach fosters focused efficiency, but inhibits variety and adaptability. Modularity is the reverse: sacrificing static efficiency for the recombinant of options. Think modular teams as well as modular processes.
  5. Encourage teaming. Celebrating the sacrifices that teams make for the broader enterprise, including customers and suppliers. Dismantle individual performance metrics and rewards that pit people against one another. Cheap transactions among the many fuel more innovation than expensive incentives among the few.

Here’s the takeaway: In addition to the famous open-source metaphor “with a thousand eyes, all bugs are shallow,” I’ll add one more: Reward the group and the group will reward you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Lefler
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group -- a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster by providing unique value at the product level: specifically product marketing, pricing, and innovation. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.


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