Foundation for Collaboration and Innovation

All companies want their people to collaborate and innovate. They work hard to get there by putting in place business processes, project management, collaboration software, creativity training, and even do a lot of “employee engagement”. Even with all this companies struggle with effective collaboration and innovation – why so?

I recently asked a CEO friend of mine to share top 5 reasons why he thought some of his important projects failed? Here is what he listed.

1. Lack of understanding of customers needs
2. Lack of understanding of constraints / budgets
3. Lack of communication with team and the stakeholders
4. Lack of trust between various functions
5. Lack of purpose

This list was a bit surprising to me knowing how good this company was and how many practices and tools they had in place including AGILE. Furthermore, what is interesting is that no where is there a mention of “skills or competencies or capabilities” nor is there any mention of lack of motivation or quality of good people.

So what’s really missing? What should he really trying to improve here? Could we distill all the above in “ONE WORD” and find an approach to turning the situation around?

The foundation for collaboration and innovation is a everyday culture of connectedness

When we align with, support and trust each other all the collaboration issues get resolved – actually all the above issues never become issues to begin with. Lack of Collaboration isn’t for lack of collaboration tools, it is because of lack of “person-to-person connectedness”.

Creating a culture of connectedness is an activity that has to happen everyday and has to happen independent of projects and work goals. (For the ones looking for scientific reason for why it needs to be independent activity – refer to this article: “Brain Can’t Empathize And Analyze At Same Time, New Study”.

So create a culture of connectedness we need to create an environment and use social technology that helps us know each others as individuals (albeit with work as backdrop). Here is an amazing model I found that explains how it is done.


This is called the Collaboration Pyramid (by Oscar Berg) and here is a link to his detailed article: The collaboration pyramid (or iceberg).

In summary, before you think of Project Management, Performance Management, or Employee Engagement programs, think of creating a culture of connectedness. May be, just may be you will need a lot less of other things and people will connect and make things happen magically!!!

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