How to Foster a Culture of Collaboration
3 Pillars Supporting a Culture of Collaboration
At OpenView, most of our work is done in teams on collaborative projects. Not only do we work across our functional team alignment (for example, our Research and Analytics team members work closely with the Marketing team, and the Talent team supports our teams in our own recruitment and employee onboarding), but we also work closely with our portfolio companies executives and managers in our value-adding consulting work as well. Therefore, having a strong teamwork culture is essential to how we operate and how we hope to make the difference for our portfolio companies.
Here are three pillars of teamwork and collaboration that we at OpenView have built and focused our own culture around:
1) Adopt Scrum
One pillar of this strategy is our adoption of the Scrum methodology, first co-invented by current OpenView Senior Advisor Jeff Sutherland, and adopted by OpenView since early 2008. This methodology is at the heart of our project management, resource planning and team interaction dynamics. It is a process that emphasizes transparency, agility, and self-organization, which really empowers individual team members and energizes the entire team.
Over the years, we have learned a lot by practicing this demanding but powerful and liberating methodology, even though it was originally created for software development teams, not for business consulting professionals.
2) Address the “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”
Another crucial pillar of our strategy is our approach to addressing the common issues that hold back high potential organization, originally introduced to us via the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni. In this framework, we recognize that organizations of high performing individuals often fail to achieve their full potential because of one or more of the following five issues:
- Absence of trust
- Fear of conflict
- Lack of commitment
- No accountability
- Lack of attention to results
Simple as it is, this is a very powerful framework that I continue to see value in, even as the team at OpenView grows and evolves. It helps bring the best out of the team, and make work and collaboration enjoyable, no matter how hard and difficult the challenge is.
3) Encourage Employees to Bring Their “Best Self” to the Table
The last element of a successful teamwork culture is not centered in the methodology or the team’s attitude, but starts rather with the individual team member. This, at OpenView, is expressed in the concept of “bringing one’s best self” to the table (or to the project or to any situation).
Your first thought might be that this is really standard business cliche — who would not encourage their employees to try their best and bring their best attitude to work in any situation? But the truth is, given the highly dynamic, fast-moving, and extremely transparent working environment such as OpenView’s and our portfolio companies’, team members can come under tremendous stress (of making a deadline, of finishing a major project, etc.), or they can find themselves needing to make a difficult decision, and that is where “bringing one’s best self” really becomes an important concept.
So what is “bringing your best self”? It is about having a positive, open-minded attitude towards the following:
- teamwork (even when there are differences in approach or objectives)
- feedback (both praise and criticism)
- changing circumstances and contingencies (a fact of life in agile, innovative environments)
As mentioned above, this is also about taking individual responsibility and accountability when appropriate, and about doing what is right for the customer/client. However, what team members often overlook is that they are at their best when they can bring out their strengths, do what they like the most, and work on what they are most passionate about.
I have mentioned this concept in my last blog post, on how organizations should focus on leveraging and furthering their employees’ strengths rather than weaknesses. I think individual team members, themselves, have to push for this, as part of bringing their best self to the table everyday.
In my next blog post, I will discuss more ways individual team members can help foster this culture and strengthen the pillars of teamwork everyday.
What are your thoughts on bringing out the best in the teams in an organization?
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