Collaboration: Strength in a Diverse Workplace

 In Product Development

“Collaboration is the best way to work. It’s [the] only way to work really. Everyone’s there because they have a set of skills to offer across the board.” – Antony Starr, actor

There is an importance of interaction and collaboration that cannot be ignored in the workplace, especially when working in a small, start-up environment. Collaboration within inter-disciplinary teams are becoming more and more important in companies today that are both expected to offer more variety in their services and to include creative elements in presenting their business for customers and potential clients. The impact of collaboration has been proven to increase productivity and improve our human chemistry. It is a fact that we are better working together than we are working on our own.

The impact of collaboration lies with the skills and experiences that each individual brings to the table. It is imperative to our success that individuals hold a wide variety of interests and approaches to help the team arrive at a well-rounded conclusion. Each individual’s experiences manifest themselves in decisions and creations that are unique and original. These viewpoints are commonly derived from the most critical of our unique personality traits; some of us are creative, some approach things with an analytical mind, we are introverted or extroverted, we lean toward being optimistic or pessimistic, we are always on time or tend to be late, we are organized or thrive in controlled chaos. The differences in our personalities and experiences as humans manifest themselves in the most productive way when we are collaborating with one another. Our individual strengths shine when we work with others who compliment our strengths or our shortcomings. Sometimes our differences create what Jerry Hirsch, executive designer at Nissan, calls creative abrasion. He encourages people to use the energy that comes from working with people who are different from each other into something positive? He suggests to leverage the differences and work to identify what can be complementary about them. Read more about creative abrasion and the other reasons collaboration is important in today’s business environment. 

The strength of separate individuals is far outweighed by the strength of a team in which each individual possess a variety of skills and experiences that compliment each other’s diverse capabilities.

 

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A physical example of individual skills complimenting each other is in the sport of football.  The collaboration of an offense and defense one a single team is imperative for the joint goal of all of the team’s players. While both the defense and the offense have separate goals during their time on the field, the collaboration and common goal of both must compliment each other for the ultimate objective of stopping the other team from scoring, putting points on the board, and winning the game. Each player on a football field possesses skills that make them technical and physical specialists in their position. When the team isn’t working well together it is reflected in the score and in the success of each play.

 

While our conference rooms may not be as public as an NFL or Big Ten College Football game, the importance of bringing unique skills to the table for the common goal of success plays out much in the same way. While collaborations include moments of pulling out your hair, slamming a clipboard to the ground, or looking at a teammate in disbelief after a “play,” the importance and results of collaborating most often end in positive, creative results for the company and for their clients. While there is no denying the challenges that face us when working with those who think and operate differently than ourselves, the creative abrasion and gained assets of a variety of viewpoints culminating in the completion of a successful project offsets any denial that working together is better than working alone.

 

In today’s business culture, companies are trying to be more things for their customers and those customers are seeking out companies that cut out the middle- man. These demands include but are not limited to a business being a marketing firm, experts in social media, a go-to for legal advice, and a personal confidant along with having the business acumen expected from industry leaders. The results of these customer demands are more inter-company collaboration and interdisciplinary teams within the workplace. And as companies utilize the advancement in internet and technology, they are able to expand our not only within different disciplines but also to different places. Technology has lifted several barriers that we may have faced just a short time ago, and now global collaboration is more achievable and allows us to accomplish more every day. These positives should be embraced and celebrated in creating a better, more efficient way for the whole world to work together and illustrates the importance of individuals coming to together to create, accomplish and thrive.

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This is more apparent than ever in a business like Elite Innovations, where we never quite know who or what idea will walk through the door. Being a product development firm, we discovered early that the clients we would serve and the teams we would need to build within the company would be diverse and ever changing. Working together in our interdisciplinary teams, we have found strength in each other’s differences and in unique skill sets that each of us possesses and exemplify in our everyday operations. Did I ever believe as an entertainment professional that I would work with programmers, engineers and industrial designers? Probably not; but in seeing that our differences compliment each other at every turn, and that creative abrasion results in even more creative alternatives and solutions, I now know the true value in collaboration. It takes straightforward thinkers and creative thinkers to gain insight from each other and for extroverts to express and present what introverts cannot naturally express. We are all wonderfully diverse and different in our concentrations.

Approaching business as an opportunity for collaboration strengthens companies and individual productivity, resulting in more shared value for the whole eco-system.

 

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