darren-nolander-teamInnovation rarely occurs in a silo. Steve Jobs had Stephen Wozniak. Bill Gates had Paul Allen. Even Elon Musk had two founding partners, not to mention the creative inspiration he took from Nikola Tesla.

Whether it’s a village or a select group of admirable individuals, we need each other if we’re going to do – and be – our very best. That’s especially true when you’re trying to innovate. 

A range of skill sets, resources, opinions and expertise will get you there a lot faster than you could get on your own. Tough problems are much easier to tackle with a team behind you. Want an added bonus? Instead of feeling drained after a brainstorming session, you’ll likely feel energized! It’s just the power of people. 

Ready to get started? Here are five guidelines for effective collaboration:

  1. Accountability

Everyone is a valued member of the team. All team members hold up their ends of the bargain, receive acknowledgment for the work they’ve done and internalize feedback on how they can improve.

  1. Trust

You can’t innovate without it. Quite frankly, you can’t do much without it. Trust is a prerequisite for successful collaboration. When all members trust and feel trusted, they’re free to share ideas and feedback in a meaningful way.

  1. Optimism

Remember that growth mindset I talked about earlier? Yeah, that isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a lifestyle you embrace. When your whole team embraces it, look out! Knowing there is a solution to be found if you just put your heads together can produce substantially better results than ruminating on a problem that’s stumped you.

  1. Speed

Believe it or not, a “time is of the essence” approach can produce better results, faster. That’s because no one likes inching their way to a goal line that’s never in sight. They need to see the “Finish” banner. It’s motivating, it makes the achievement real, it lets them know they’re not just wasting their time on some lofty project with no direction. So set a deadline, along with multiple check-in dates. It keeps everyone performing their best. 

  1. Complexity

Collaboration is great, but you have to know when it’s needed. People get burned out and have a lot on their plates. Be discerning and consciously choose when to call in the cavalry on a project. Plus, nothing burns people out faster than being put on a team or called into a meeting for a task that could’ve been silently carried out by one person. The problem needs to be complex enough that a few minds can really jump into it.

 Now that you have the five-ingredient recipe for a stellar collaboration session put it to the test. The next time you find yourself with a problem that requires a few minds, you’ll be ready to hit the drawing board!

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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