Collaboration is a polarising concept. Many within an organisational context have experienced the increased output and productivity of a collaborative project and yet, conversely, the very prospect of collaboration can elicit negative memories of group assignments and projects for others.
Irrespective of experiences, good or bad, collaboration is a reality and necessity within today’s professional and educational institutions - more so than ever with the advent of remote work and learning, and the growing complexities of the challenges facing society today.
As Gardener and Ibarra write in their article How to Capture Value from Collaboration, Especially If You’re Skeptical About It, “Many of today’s most important challenges are so complex and multifaceted that they can only be tackled by teams of experts from disparate domains. To solve them, professionals must be able to harness ideas, people, and resources from across disciplinary and organizational boundaries.”
The more we operate individually in silos, the less multifaceted and comprehensive our solutions will be.
Consider the scenario of product development of a new drill for a manufacturer of power tools. Sure, the industrial designer could conceptualise a drill but when prototyping he realises it lacks the required efficacy. When a product engineer is engaged they reengineer the design to strike balance between form and function. When they present the drill to the head of sales, they’re told that 18 bolt drills have been highly sought. Back to the drawing board. Finally, when marketing gets wind they insist on a focus group to test the product and gather feedback.
Yes, the industrial designer could have produced the drill alone. But were it a collaborative project from the very beginning the drill would be better designed, launched to market more efficiently, with a greater chance of commercial success.
Collaboration brings individuals together to accomplish a common goal more efficiently than if the same task were undertaken by an individual. It allows for teams to “produce new ideas and innovative solutions that can meet or even surpass business objectives” (Devon Maloney).
A healthy collaborative culture will allow for equal opportunities to share ideas, ideate, create team-focused decisions and share diverse perspectives.
In fact, an inclusive environment (especially when facilitated remotely / digitally) will allow for team members who would otherwise be less inclined to speak up to engage in the brainstorming, creative thinking, ideation or decision making stages of a project as there is less emphasis on interpersonal skills or appearance.
The very nature of collaboration cultivates better ideas and problem solving. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, once said “many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”
Collaboration can be challenging and inefficient when ego, organisational bureaucracy, ineffective (or excessive) communication and poor time planning are in effect. As Devon Maloney wrote in his article The ultimate guide to effective collaboration in the workplace, “maybe your teammates work remotely and are hard to reach, departments have become siloed, or the plague of unproductive meetings or bickering personalities is upon you.”
To collaborate effectively it’s important to establish communication boundaries and standards, clearly defined objectives for accountability, and employ the right tools for efficient digital collaboration.
With such apparent benefits, we explain how myhaven’s team rooms can be used in professional and educational contexts to overcome the most regularly faced challenges of collaboration in order to produce more valuable, creative, innovative and considered outcomes.
myhaven’s team rooms allow for multiple participants to collate their ideas, findings and resources in one centralised space. Collectively they can collaborate, learn and expand upon their knowledge.
In a professional context, a team room can facilitate brainstorming, creative thinking and ideation (enriched by the ability to upload any type of media from imagery to documents to video content). By providing an open and inclusive environment for all colleagues to contribute equally, myhaven’s digital rooms allow for collaborative and constructive discussion to propel a project forward more efficiently.
As we saw earlier in the power tool scenario, if collaboration within departments was part of the company culture, then the project outcome, viability and efficiency would all be improved.
Utilising the chat function within a team room ensures all dialogue related to a project is kept within the confines of that particular room, so the entire developmental process is documented and retrievable in future instead of scattered across emails and multiple platforms. It also allows for simple, open collaboration whether colleagues are working remotely or in office.
If an organisation is looking to replicate or build upon a successful project, myhaven provides insight into the thought process of projects past and a comprehensive archive of all references and resources.
Students at both secondary and tertiary levels source important information from multiple locations — the school or university learning management system, databases, internet, resources at the library, powerpoints in classes or lectures, pdf readings… the list goes on.
Just as they source information from disparate locations, many also store this information across multiple platforms and devices. This is both inefficient and risky as when it comes time to retrieve key resources from throughout the semester, items can be difficult to find or, worse yet, lost in the digital ether.
A myhaven team room can be created for each group project to provide a centralised location for all members to store all references and resources during a project’s research stage. That way nothing is lost or overlooked when it comes time to collating the assignment.
It also provides a place to securely store each draft for collaborative editing. Real-time feedback and discussion can take place over chat no matter where each student is located.
Facilitating communication and collaboration via a digital platform also removes barriers for students who would be less inclined to speak up in person and fosters equal participation.
For many freelancers or service provides, considerable time is consumed by unbilled client communication over calls, emails or lengthy video calls.
When using myhaven to collaborate with clients, freelancers can streamline all correspondence within the myhaven app itself, with clients able to ask questions or comment on documents. They can also ask questions via the chat functionality.
Digital collaboration and communication is especially useful when defining the parameters of a brief, sharing inspiration, insights and references, or providing feedback on revisions — all milestones in a project that usually require time consuming, back and forth communication.
This alleviates the need for multiple emails and calls that would otherwise ensue, and transparently archives all correspondence into one platform should either party need to reference this in the future.
Are you looking for a more effective way to collaborate or communicate with peers, colleagues or clients? Do you have group projects that could benefit from better information management? Are there valued and diverse perspectives within your organisation but no effective means of collaboration? Are you a manager looking for a tool to facilitate group ideation or collaboration?