Collaboration is a hallmark of industry-leading companies, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Top-performing companies “collaborate more effectively at every level of the organisation – from the C-suite to middle managers to line employees”, says the report.
The survey was carried out among 249 high-level business leaders, 60 per cent of whom work in organisations that have revenues of over $500 million, and half of whom are C-level executives.
The resulting report, ‘Fostering Collaboration’, finds that top-performing companies:
• Build belief among their employees that the benefits they gain from collaboration outweigh the potential pitfalls.
• Use collaboration to address organisational issues and align the enterprise around strategic goals.
• Create an environment for all employees in which collaboration is both easy and rewarded.
According to the EIU, market leaders believe that collaboration can help bring about an efficient, well-aligned company, which is better equipped to cope with the present and plan for the future than one that “specifically seeks out collaboration each time a crisis arises”.
By contrast, the report suggests that companies that lag behind in terms of market share are less likely to believe that collaboration can work for them.
The report revealed some interesting findings about organisational size. Enterprises with annual revenues exceeding $10bn face an uphill struggle when it comes to collaboration, according to the EIU, because they are more sensitive than their smaller counterparts to the risks.
Risks include: the difficulty of assigning project ownership (cited by 42 per cent of respondents); more complicated and protracted decision-making (30 per cent); and the looming spectre of ‘group think’ (26 per cent).
The EIU report is evidence of something that UCInsight is always keen to stress: you don’t build a collaborative organisation by buying collaboration tools.
Collaboration should be a top-down business strategy that involves a cultural shift in the organisation towards a flatter, more discursive culture built around clear business goals and vision. Only once that has been set in motion should the technology be brought in.