If increased levels of motivation and improved team work sound appealing, perhaps it’s time you looked at boosting collaboration to achieve increased innovation.
A large majority of CEOs believe technology will have a significant impact on the nature of competition in their industry over the next five years. Nearly a quarter of the 1 379 CEOs surveyed by PwC in its 20th CEO survey singled out innovation as their top priority for the coming year – above other concerns such as human capital, competitiveness, customer experience, and even technological capabilities.
“Focusing on innovation in general as a priority makes sense, rather than placing bets on specific technological breakthroughs. Companies need to keep innovating just to stay abreast of what’s happening in their markets, with their customers, and with their competitors.” – Vicki Huff Eckert, PwC Global New Venture team leader
Prioritising and cultivating innovation in your business requires effective collaboration – something that’s already top-of-mind for many CEOs. This is how you can introduce new ways to facilitate innovation-producing collaboration:
1. Teamwork makes the dream work
As Industry 4.0 advances, your company’s success in the business environment will be dependent on forging strong, collaborative ties with your customers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders. The answers to the following questions will help you establish the collective vision your company needs for successful implementation of new processes for company-wide engagement and synergy:
- What are the goals of each process?
- Are they being met?
- How are our current processes making us lose money and affecting our quarterly results?
- What if we could do this particular process twice as fast?
- Are there steps we can eliminate in the process?
“While finding the answers to these questions during a brainstorming session with your team, keep in mind that collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to internal stakeholders — or even to humans,” says Vicki Huff Eckert, PwC Global New Venture team leader. “Of the global CEOs we surveyed, 52% are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together, while 39% globally are considering AI’s impact on future skill needs.”
2. Build the tech capability you need
Collaboration technology has allowed PwC, like many tech-centric companies, become a more ‘virtual’ organisation as society moves past the desktop age and into a mobile and wearable one. “Over the past ten years, huge portions of the workforce have gone home, taking advantage of work-from-home and flex-time policies,” says Eckert.
In-person meetings are a thing of the past since remote teams can now connect with each other using Google Hangouts, for example. People can now work remotely in a productive way, freeing them up to engage with clients, or attend to their personal lives, with the ability to still connect with other team members. While the majority of corporate work is still desk-bound, a huge opportunity exists to extend collaborative tools to a mobile work environment.
3. Inspire change from the top down
“Collaboration is more than technological tools. It’s more than a cultural willingness to work together to come up with new ideas. You need both,” says Eckert. “And when you combine them, you unlock tremendous power.”
Now is the time to start turning that key, she says. But bear in mind that implementing collaboration requires taking a hard look at the systems and workplace-culture issues that could be impeding your progress. To inspire the revelation that certain things need to change, you need to work toward buy-in from key stakeholders. Being open to how they change is the mark of great leadership.
DID YOU KNOW?
As the world moves into the fourth industrial revolution, your company needs to gear up to handle and create massive innovation. The key is to embrace collaboration at all levels: Internally, externally, and with technology itself.
4. Multiple gains of collaborating
A new way of collaborating beyond what the workplace has ever seen before is being cultivated through real-time collaboration software. PwC has named collaboration technology’s emerging new behaviours ‘Collective Creation’, in reference to The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. The book highlights collectivism as the next step following collaboration.
From its experience with collaboration technology, PwC has observed a number of benefits:
Making changes in real-time with everyone watching and listening significantly reduces the amount of time it typically takes to get buy-in. Move on much more quickly and confidently with everyone on the same page and invest more time into advancing content.
More showing, less telling
Working with the real-time collaboration software dramatically reduces the amount of back- and-forth and errors in the document where junior members of PwC are being told by senior leaders what edits to make. There has been a noticeable enhancement the clarity of communication.
Happiness yields hard work
Motivation remains high because the preferred process involves working together on a personal level. Simply put, the happier employees are, the harder they work.
This form of collaboration cultivates fertile ground for experimentation and increases willingness to try things out with real-time feedback. It’s quicker to collectively veer in a different direction when attempts fail. Rapid-fire experimentation has the potential to fuel inspired work.
Providing real-time critiques to junior members of staff as they perform a task makes for powerful teaching and learning moments and allows you to grow together.
Instilling a collaborative culture in your organisation involves more than an upgrade of tech and will therefore yield results that aren’t always technological, such as: