Do you have the necessary collaboration techniques and tools in your professional arsenal? Does that rub you the wrong way? Collaboration requires that you recognize what you have in common with your colleagues. As you read the title to this post, you may be saying to yourself: “No way. I wear a unique pair of shoes that only I can fit into!” Which may be true, especially if you have taken the time to differentiate yourself within your particular domain area expertise.
That doesn’t mean you don’t need to constantly implement collaboration tools, tips and techniques into your day-to-day skill sets.
Use collaboration techniques and tools to identify the common denominators between the “You versus Them” in your corporate culture. You may think you live and work worlds apart from each other! On the other hand (or foot!), you and your colleagues share many common denominators, if you both take the time to identify them. Let’s start off by using this collaboration tool. You both have feet, you both may have the same number of toes, some of you may wear the same shoe size, and you may prefer the same brands of shoes for the same types of purposes (let’s say you find out you both like to jog)…. You get the picture. Find the common denominators.
Do you work in a corporate culture which focuses on fluid and ongoing processes? That means bringing in the appropriate people early on in the business development cycle. If so, you will be able to use collaboration techniques and tools which identify common themes running across all the disciplines in your team. Everyone seated around the business development table understands the terminology and principles of the team.
The fundamental common denominator shared between all of you is that revenue generation is part of everyone’s job functionality, stated or not. What type of collaboration techniques and tools can you use to identify that over-arching common denominator? Establish that premise as your #1 common denominator. You create input-throughput-output that collectively delivers the best design solution. You deliver the best outcome in terms of revenue generation. You serve your department’s and your organization’s needs as well as your customers’ and investors’.
Another common denominator is that you, your colleagues, your investors and your customers have a lot of the same things on your minds. You are concerned about customer retention and how that impacts your own retention as an employee. You are concerned about reduction in cost of production. You are concerned about increases in raw materials costs. You focus on reduction of order-to-cash cycles. Use collaboration techniques and tools to capture insights about your way of thinking about these issues. What is the language you use to describe them? Streamline your collective insights into a common language. Everyone seated around the business table can address these issues, from their perspective. Moving forward, it’s easier to understand, and learn, from your colleagues.
When you bring a solid arsenal of collaboration techniques and tools into your deliverables, you put yourself in everyone else’s shoes. Take a walk around the business development table. You appreciate the viewpoints of everyone you work with – regardless of whether or not you are in agreement with them. You identify the common denominators throughout your organization and that of your customers. You become proactive and anticipatory. What are the types of common denominator factors that impact your colleagues and customers? You end up expressing yourself differently, in a manner understood by everyone seated around the business development table –regardless of their professional discipline.
If you don’t work within a corporate culture which will embrace this type of common denominator perspective, think about how you can bring the power of collaboration techniques and tools into at least one project you currently are working on.
You may have more in common with your cross-functional colleagues, and the types of professional “shoes” that they wear, than you think you have. What collaboration tool will you put into play this week?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo to small and mid-sized businesses in the manufacturing and service sectors. She builds revenue-producing business strategies for technical startups. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business, addresses collaboration techniques and tools necessary for business development and revenue production in today’s cross functional workplace.