How Collaborative Intelligence Can Boost Business Innovation
Ineffective meetings cost businesses $541 billion a year globally in lost productivity and employee time, according to Doodle’s 2019 State of the Meeting report. And according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, as much as 85% of employee time may be wasted on inefficient collaboration.
But the real costs of such disconnection go even deeper than money.
In a disconnected organization, innovation grinds to a halt. Individuals’ and teams’ great insights get trapped in silos. Employees feel stifled—unheard and disengaged. And with record numbers of knowledge workers quitting their jobs in the “Great Resignation,” the risks of disconnection are more urgent than ever.
Simply put: your organization can’t afford to have a disconnected workforce.
Building a company culture in which everyone is connected to their teams and has a shared sense of purpose is fundamental for collaboration and innovation. Building such a culture requires adopting collaborative intelligence (CI)a new systematic approach that connects teams to unlock their genius—taking insights and ideas from possibility to reality.
The Five Principles of Collaborative Intelligence
In the spirit of making collaboration intentional and purposeful, CI is comprised of three main components. First, there are collaboration spaces, both physical and online, where teams can connect. Second, there is collaboration design, the practice of introducing intentionality and technology to help teams connect and innovate. And finally, collaboration insights let organizations measure and improve their collaboration and innovation. Together, these yield a culture of collaboration where everyone feels connected and confident in delivering great work.
Collaborative intelligence is based on five principles:
- People are greater together than apart.
Working in teams magnifies individuals’ power and value by coordinating a broader range of experience and expertise to tackle challenges and break down barriers to innovation and progress.
For example, collaboration is core to innovation at GitLab, a development operations (DevOps) platform whose 1,500-employee workforce was global and fully remote long before the pandemic. With such a range of time zones, backgrounds, and specialties, developers and project managers (PMs) depend on free-form, cross-functional collaboration.
In order to ensure that working remotely doesn’t lead to acting remotely, GitLab uses collaborative intelligence to create a brainstorming space where peers can easily come together and share ideas in a comfortable, inclusive, and safe environment. One team leader describes this as turning order-takers into idea-makers.
The starting point for any discussion begins with creating categories or “issues.” Next, all the stakeholders—designers, PMs, researchers, developers, and engineering managers—come together to collaborate on solutions. Broadening the idea processes and including more team members mean more contribution, easier organization, and faster progress at the beginning of each project.
- Teams can’t exist without connection.
Creating an environment that provides employees psychological safety, group commitment, and a common purpose forges a strong, productive employee culture.
Take the Human Centered Design (HCD) Institute, an internal consultancy at enterprise automation company Emerson that facilitates and documents workshops for the company’s 88,000 global employees.
Whereas it once struggled with ensuring all workshop attendees felt seen and heard, HCD Institute now leverages collaborative intelligence to facilitate more effective and efficient workshops featuring a more engaging and inclusive range of expertise and ideas. CI also helped the group eliminate its laborious practice of digitizing sticky notes so it could deliver post-workshop documentation up to 80% faster.
- Collaboration should not be left to chance.
Teamwork needs to be intentional. The acceleration of remote and hybrid work environments has eliminated the bygone passive strategy of depending on watercooler serendipity for innovation.
Effective collaboration relies on ways of working that encourage purposeful inclusion, safe communication, and playful group interaction. Since Autodesk implemented collaborative intelligence to forge stronger bonds among its executive teams, company leaders have found their decision making is not merely faster but better: CI helps these leaders establish a single source of truth and insight that transcends teams, practices, and locations.
- Collaboration spaces power connected teams.
A physical, digital, or hybrid common space encourages dynamic communication, getting past the limitations of email, documents, and chats for seamless collaboration in real time or across time zones.
In an distributed, remote, or hybrid business environment, a culture that encourages asynchronous collaboration is critical. At SAP, distributed teams use collaborative intelligence to work together without the constraints of any region’s working hours. And they were making decisions twice as quickly and improving talent onboarding and retention while increasing efficiency across practices.
- Measuring collaboration is possible and essential.
Does working together really mean working better? The proof, as always, is in the data. Insight into how teams are collaborating helps organizations pinpoint how they solve problems most effectively, where their best ideas are coming from, and how they can come up with more.
A Forrester report, “Total Economic Impact of IBM’s Design Thinking Practice,” concluded that adopting this proven collaboration method helped IBM better understand and optimize the way its teams work together, resulting in a 50% reduction in the number of bugs and defects, $3.2 million saved due to improving efficiency across agile development teams, and $9.2 million in cut costs from streamlining processes.
Transform Your Workspace with Collaborative Intelligence
When an organization inadvertently siloes and stifles its teams’ and individuals’ creativity and innovation, it loses the growth potential derived from its collective brainpower, innovation, and morale.
But collaborative intelligence can help your organization unlock the collective genius of individual employees and across teams and, in the process, fuse the full scope of their innovation and problem-solving capabilities so you can grow and lead
With the acceleration of remote and hybrid work, and a powerful and mobile talent market, collaborative intelligence has the potential to become your organization’s most essential and most effective resource.
Learn more about conversation intelligence.