The media has been abuzz lately with people criticizing collaboration as "the new groupthink".
These critics are missing the point: collaboration works, and in fact
it can work wonders, but you have to know how to do it.
Putting people in a room, giving them some post-its and asking them to come up with the company's new business model doesn't work, and isn't a good idea. And nobody who relies on collaborative processes to innovate would say that it is.
Collaboration is cardinal to moving forward intelligently.
Collaboration goes far beyond the groupthink.
Collaboration encompasses a full range of working patterns that go from plain brainstorming, to going out in the field and asking users how they would like your product to work, and to having your customers co-design your next big idea.
Collaboration intervenes at different stages of innovation, including:
- Defining the stakes
- Detecting needs
- Exploring or generating new ideas
- Testing (ideas or early prototypes) to get early feedback and iterate.
The key to effective collaboration is knowing how to do it. But the truth is that there is no right way to do it, because collaboration deals with human alchemy and human feelings; and there are no right tools or right formats either.
Collaboration is about mindset, experience, and most of all purpose. Of course, purpose is meant to change during the course of action because surprise is what brings value to the whole thing - but a clear purpose is an initial standpoint: it gives focus and meaning to the process. As a matter of fact, defining the purpose is actually an excellent way to chose the right format for a collaborative workshop.
And if you are still not comfortable with the whole idea, here are three alternative reasons to collaborate, that do not necessarily involve creative outcomes:
Let's face it: collaboration has always been the way of the world. How many great advancements, innovations, ideas, have come out of pure solitude? The answer: not very many.