Shut up and listen! 4 tips for effective collaboration

Addressing complacency in innovation – Part Three

You may have noticed by now that I’m huge advocate for collaborating with others. From my ventures with Creativity Australia, The Song Room, Creative Innovation Global, Pot-Pourri and Music Theatre Australia, I believe in collaborating for success. While I spearheaded these initiatives I didn’t do it alone.

Why does collaboration result in innovation? When you collaborate you increase the chances of associations between ideas and concepts – and the result is “creative abrasion” and new thinking leading to innovation. What’s really exciting to see is when collaboration is amplified by speed in numbers, access to a network of connections to get an idea off the ground, ability to execute quickly, and my favourite – the collective energy and positivity of a group of people all focussed on bringing an idea to life.

A recent Cisco study – “Human behaviour and the barriers to effective collaboration: how it affects productivity, workplace efficiency, and business results” – outlined 4 key ingredients for successful collaboration. These were all grounded in human behaviour and included building relationships based on trust, turning human interactions into results, balancing decision-making and consensus building and evolving the workplace culture.

It was interesting to note that successful collaboration had nothing to do with the latest technology or the most complicated Gantt charts – it was all about the people.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Andrew Carnegie

Here are 4 tips to help you collaborate more effectively:

  1. Hero every voice – each one will sing a different note! I have said it before and I will continue to say it, everyone’s voice matters. From the top of an organisation all the way down – we need to listen to everyone’s ideas and allow them to shine. Schedule regular collaboration meetings with people across your organisation and collectively solve a problem. Be sure to encourage everyone to speak up (especially the introverts) as any voice can change the world.
  2. Make visioning a team sport. I read this line in a wonderful Forbes article that said “Today’s most successful leaders guide their organisations not through command and control, but through a shared purpose and vision”. I love this statement because it encourages leaders to share the mission and dreams of the business and allow every team member to play a role in determining how to bring the dreams to life.
  3. Don’t do it all yourself – create inspirational leaders. It’s foolish to think you can build a culture of innovation single-handedly. To be successful you will need to inspire those around you to also be inspirational. Identify your collaboration team and create a list of all of the people, groups and organizations who have something to gain, something to lose and something to contribute to the issue at hand. Connect with them and work out what they are passionate about. Give them the tools, the passion, and the authority to inspire. By empowering others to help you build a culture of collaboration, you are likely to be more successful.
  4. Collaborate regularly and evaluate. Collaboration is something that requires regular practice with your selected group. Then you will start to see issues and challenges from a different point of view and gain greater clarity. Evaluate regularly: is your collaborative progressing? What needs to be achieved and by when? Be clear about your outcomes with everyone who is involved.

No man or woman is an island and we work better when we engage with our surroundings and collaborate with the amazing people around us. The people we interact with every day have great ideas that we can all learn from if we listen. If we want to address complacency in innovation then we need to collaborate regularly.

It’s all about asking the right question to the right group of people in a setting where everyone has a voice.

If you want learn more about collaboration, developing a culture of innovation, being positively disruptive and building sustainable growth then register your tickets for Creative Innovation2015 – where you will hear from over 40 Global leaders inspiring change globally.

Early Bird Tickets selling quickly at

To inspire you and your team’s creative juices, please watch and share my recent TEDxMelbourne talk viewed by over 13,000 people so far:) We are changing the world, one voice at a time!

And please follow me on Twitter @TaniadeJong