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Best Collaboration Articles June/July 2013

Posted on by Brandon Klein

A comprehensive list of the latest trends and research about collaboration in the workplace compliments of Collaboration Inc @collabinc  

The collaborative team player 
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller
Today, the social implications of a multi-generational workforce joining with the informational implications of new technology make collaboration a priority in many organizations. Collaborations, partnerships, alliances are the mark of great organizations and communities—the indispensable arsenal of the organization and communities of the future...

Creative thinkers don’t like the word “brainstorming” anymore.
It relies on a thunderstorm metaphor--a sudden swirl of energy that gets everybody’s attention for a moment, then passes by, dissipates, and leaves nothing behind.
And that describes a good brainstorming session.
“I think in most brainstorms, there’s actually very little brain and hardly any storm,” says Keith Yamashita, principle at SY Partners, a transformation consulting firm. “Brainstorming is really the art of thinking--collaboratively. And thinking takes work. It takes preparation. And it takes a different view.”
"A study of the teams that produced Broadway musicals from 1945 to 1989 yielded an interesting insight: If the bulk of the team had connections and a fluency with each other, the show’s probability of success shot up."

Don’t Neglect Your Power To Bring People Together
Out of the many ways that managers get things done, one of the most underused is what I call “convening authority”: the ability to bring people together to share information, build alignment, or solve problems. To explain, let me share a quick example, in two acts...

Turn It Up: How the Right Amount of Ambient Noise Increases Creativity
Finding the right space to do creative work can be difficult. Inside the office, there are constant interruptions, last-minute meetings, and an often unbearable amount of noise. On the other hand, locking yourself away in quiet isolation can sometimes be just as counterproductive (not to mention boring). For most creatives there is a “Goldilocks” zone of just the right amount of noise, but not too much. 

Use Catalytic Questioning to Solve Significant Problems
For almost twenty years, I have refined a systematic approach to uncovering the right questions—those that start to unlock entirely different solutions and perspectives—with hundreds of teams around the world, from the C-suite to the shop floor. The method, which I now call Catalytic Questioning, incorporates five simple, unconventional steps to help change our questions — and creatively solve significant problems both in our personal and professional lives...

Calling all Introverts! Why You’re Wired to Collaborate
Extroverts get too much credit. There, I’ve said it. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by “credit”, but extroverts tend to stand out through their natural behavior. Extroverted leaders glide into rooms and engage instantly in the most important conversations. What makes collaboration so challenging for many organizations is the nature of the work:  teams come together, solve a problem and move on to a new challenge. Extroverts by nature fit easily into these stimulating situations where human-to-human interaction and engagement are the keys to success. 

Innovation Needs a Lingua Franca
Shortly after my 21st birthday, I went on hiatus from university, and lived in Uruguay for a year as a missionary. Because I had studied Spanish in school, I thought I knew Spanish. It turns out I didn't; I could say little, understand less. After eight months, when I was assigned to a town in the interior of Uruguay where no one spoke English, I finally learned to speak, understand, and even think in Spanish. I had to, to survive. In retrospect, as I look to implement disruptive ideas there are several lessons to be extracted from my experience of "do or die" language immersion...

A practical guide to cross-sector collaboration
Collaborating can be frustrating but it isn't about sublimating your organisation's goals – it's about discovering common ground. Our most ambitious sustainability goals rely on us collaborating, and finding people who share our aims is only the start. System-shifting collaboration that bridges gulfs through simultaneous action by organisations with seemingly conflicting interests depends on three essentials: shared (or at least, complementary) goals, the right mix of players, and really good working relationships...

Your business has people on three continents. How do you keep them connected, and ready to collaborate?
Anat Binur, Co-Founder of Middle East Education through Technology (MEET), faces this problem every day. Since 2004, the MIT-staffed non-profit has been connecting Israeli and Palestinian high school students, in an effort to find, unite, and empower youth in an otherwise hostile situation. Binur, based in Silicon Valley, works with a team stretching from California, to the East coast of America, to the Middle East, and into Europe. "MEET is a global organization," she says. "One of the challenges is creating both a culture and a collaboration and actually getting things done." To effectively communicate with her team, Binur is no stranger to tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, but says technology still doesn't provide the genuine connection that instills trust among team members...

10 Rules to Make Any Meeting 9,000% Better
10 pictures that say it all.

8 Best Apps for Team Collaboration
Click to view descriptions.