Collaboration Through 100 Different Lenses

David James - December 11th, 2017

Number of people sat on chair looking at a screen where a man is presenting

Last month I wrote a blog about how I view Collaboration at The Floow, and how critical this value is to our enduring success as a business, and as a responsive business partner to our clients.

I got a lot of feedback from that blog, not least from members of the team here at The Floow who were keen to share their thoughts on this so I thought I’d write a second blog sharing some of that. Just as it’s critical for us to promote a culture that supports collaboration as a core value, it’s pretty important that we recognise that not everyone’s view or approach will be the same – sharing ideas is critical to collaboration, as is being open-minded and prepared to learn from one another.

And with that in mind, here’s what I learned from the team:

Having the right tools to facilitate collaboration is absolutely critical

And no, we’re not talking about email! Email has its place but used in the wrong way it can negatively impact our ability to collaborate both amongst our teams and with our customers. Wherever possible, we look for ways to connect personally as much as possible, but also to shortcut the types of requests that come up time and again by taking time to document methods, meanings and learnings and making those insights readily available across teams. Additionally, a lot of things can be solved quickly between people by using Instant Messaging, saving a lot of time and email in the process! But what’s clear in all of this is that communications skills, interpersonal connection and ‘EQ’ are essential for everyone if we are to collaborate effectively.

True collaboration requires people to be ‘present’

The speed of change and the pace of business means that people have never felt busier at work. Sometimes this manifests itself in scenarios where people appear to be present in a meeting or conversation but they are distracted by emails, social media, texts or calls. True collaboration is hard to achieve if you’re only half present, so we’re focusing on supporting an environment where we’re fully present in all conversations we have. This means being both physically and mentally present, as both are required to support an environment of respect for one another. Of course we’re all human and sometimes this isn’t possible so a culture where it’s OK to ask for our colleagues understanding when it is not possible for us to be fully present is central to what we’re trying to build here.

Breaking down silos

Breaking down the inevitable silos that can spring up between teams is often made possible by taking time to share knowledge and explain things simply. A data scientist inhabits a very different world than a salesperson or designer might but taking time to share more of what we do is a really valuable way of achieving common ground. One way we’re trying to do this here at The Floow is give a different team each week the opportunity to present to the rest of the company on a topic related to their work. This is a great way of establishing understanding and putting names to faces as the company grows.

Anticipation is key!

We know that new team members often require more support and advice than more established colleagues and helping them to make a fast start often requires anticipation. Many times they won’t even know what they don’t know, but anticipating those needs and offering help can really aid future collaboration and help to foster strong, enduring relationships. And this point also goes for how we collaborate with our clients. Many times clients won’t be totally aware of what’s possible with our technology so building trusting relationships with them helps to breed a context for sharing that often expands their ideas.

These are just some of the principles that members of The Floow team think are important to support a culture of collaboration in everything we do. But it’s not exhaustive, and it’s clear that every one of our 100-strong team are different from one another so our ideas and preferences for how we collaborate will differ. But that’s the beauty and richness of working in a diverse company environment like The Floow.

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