The following post is part of the course work for “Live Exchange” the foundational course on communication for The MBA Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts. The rest of the posts are presented here.
Tackling complex problems, fostering creativity and positive impact requires well-formed teams. This is the future of business.
Those with the ability to combine innovative scenarios with well-thought-out strategy in a collaborative team setting have the potential for outstanding results. Making the impossible possible will take teams that have a carefully selected communication method, use collaboration not just coordination, and have the ability to recruit members with diverse backgrounds and expertise.
Methods of communication are critical.
Technology has made it convenient to work at a distance. In the DMBA program, our team meetings often center around video chat. However, have we taken the time to think about the potential impact? The dance of communication is lost in the delays associated with technology. We lack the non-verbal cues which help us determine whose turn it is to talk. Matching communication method and task is critical in maximizing a team’s potential. Virtual teams tend to be more task-oriented. In the article “Virtual Teams Versus Face-to-Face Teams: An Exploratory Study of a Web-based Conference System,” we see that the exchange of information is more difficult in virtual teams, slowing the development of relational links.
Another article, “Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Digital Media Arts,” examines the importance of relational links and how they foster openness, personal trust, willingness to compromise, common interests, sympathy and spatial proximity. Why are developing relational links so important within teams that collaborate?
Think back to being on a team that had problems congealing. What methods of communication were being used? How might this have affected the team’s relational links? Relational links foster “enhanced creativity and motivation, increased morale, better decisions and fewer process losses.”
The best teams quickly build a safe environment of respect and trust where collaboration can thrive. Based on my experience working on various teams within the DMBA program, as well as research on the topic, I created the Methods of Communication graphic. It examines how real-time versus delayed communication methods map across collaboration versus coordinating tasks.
I believe emails and other sensory-deprived methods are susceptible to misinterpretation and interpersonal communication failure. Non-visual cues and voice inflections are essential to deciphering true meaning, all of which are required for successful team collaboration.
Collaboration not only coordination.
Collaboration is the future of business. The DMBA program at CCA works to fill our proverbial tool box with ways to navigate this delicate environment. What makes collaboration different from coordination? Collaboration is a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. It is not dividing up tasks and assembling a finished product as a team might when coordinating tasks. There needs to be an interconnectedness of emotions, trust, respect and desires woven into a collective consensus that fosters sharing and teaching. Collaborating is a dynamic, delicate space that requires attention and skill. Selecting the appropriate method of communication is imperative when navigating these waters.
Diversity sparks creativity.
A project’s success will require experts to come together from a variety of specialties via the collaborative process. Diversity of experiences can shift perspectives and spark creativity. The article New Ideas Emerge When Collaboration Occurs states, “when expertise is shared, it makes the sum stronger than the parts. These collaborations lead to new forms of interactivity and communication, new tools and new art forms.” Diversity fosters the positive elements within the collaboration process. Diversity has the power to bring out passion, alter perspectives and ignite creativity. If a team selects a method of communication that is sensory deprived, it runs the risk of losing the influential power of authentic messages.
What does it all mean?
Collaboration and diversity are important ingredients for solving creative, complex problems, but communication is the glue that holds it together. The more diverse, complex, creative and collaborative the team, the faster, more informative and clear the communication must be.
We want to be inspired by the people we work with. Don’t miss the opportunity to ignite passion within your teams by using the wrong methods of communication.
image: inlinguamanchester via Flickr cc