Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: How to Leverage Collaborative Creativity in Business

Managers often get the question of how to make a team to work together, and, therefore, it is very important for a team leader to address this early on. Each team works best a little differently; it depends often on the mix of personalities on the team at any time. In this piece, managers are encouraged to consider how to find new and creative ways to solve problems whether the primary concern is with products and services, processes or solutions, or just improving the workplace culture. If a team can work together more effectively, then everyone feels happier and more productive and the organization benefits. The opposite is also true. If the team has roadblocks to collaboration, each member of the team is not as productive and the entire organization suffers from the reduced productivity of the group.

Imagine the Possibilities of Increased Collaboration

Different perspectives can help inform this topic because great ideas are sourced from members of the work team itself. Over time, the team also fine-tunes its processes and work habits using creativity and debates and a lot of trial and error. What’s more, work teams may try one approach and then watch it fail, but their next solution turns out to work much better for everyone (or almost everyone). If the team hadn’t first jointly experienced a learning curve that produced failure, then their next solution probably would not have been as brilliant. In the process of creative collaboration, they achieved success and felt better about themselves for finding solutions in a process.


This discussion doesn’t imply that all decision-making processes on a team are democratic or that the seed of an idea doesn’t sometimes originate with one person, but a good team develops the idea into a more polished solution that may not have been possible without every member’s contribution to the effort.

What is Collaboration?

Here’s how Gardner and Ibarra explained it in their recent Harvard Business Review post: “Working with old hands before you forge a project of your own helps you pick up the routines, processes, and tools that make collaboration efficient. This insider knowledge can also help you identify future situations when collaboration is smart and most likely to pay off.”

The Move Towards Collaborative Workspaces

If you are charged with leading a team, then you know you don’t perform this role in a vacuum. A good leader is always searching for new ways to facilitate group collaboration and to test techniques that have worked for teams in other organizations. One of the trends that seems to be increasingly popular, especially if you read about companies like Google and Amazon, is increased use of the collaborative workspace.

Think of this as a place for the team to co-exist and to work in close proximity. With the open space and a variety of collaborative workstations or desks that anyone can use, team members get easy access to face-to-face dialogue with one or more collaborators when needed. Sometimes, close working environments are more effective, especially when employees are trying to resolve problems at different intervals in a project. Although technology provides many ways for members of a team to stay connected, even in a virtual collaborative workspace where everyone’s contribution is viewable on a shared network, the 3D (real-life) collaborative workspace enables the team members to obtain both verbal and nonverbal feedback. This is important for their collaborative work.

Collaborative Workspaces Aren’t Limiting in Nature

Nonetheless, it’s also true that the collaborative workspace isn’t the only workgroup arrangement that can help a team to function well. There are times when team members need to work alone, free from distracting noises and co-workers. They need to complete a part of the team’s project without interference, and they can respond to colleagues with questions at a later time.

That being said, a good collaborative workspace also provides nearby access to private workrooms and desks. If the team member goes into that space, he or she can use technology (i.e. email, text, or voicemail) to interact with team members when needed. By having private and collaborative workspaces available in the same building, team members can quickly choose when to communicate on aspects of a project in a timely manner. They can also choose to work alone when they muar complete a task with maximum focus, especially under the leader’s deadline. What’s more, two or three team members can work in the private room on their portion of the project without disturbing the rest of the team co-working in the shared workspace.

Building a collaborative workspace environment can help take your business to the next level, but just changing the technology and the  furniture around won’t be enough; company culture and attitudes have to change, too. Think about the structures within your company. What can you do to make your workspace more collaborative and functional?

References: | The Importance of Collaboration in the Workplace | How to Capture Value from Collaboration | Find the Best Office Desk: Our Top 30 for 2018

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