July 20, 2013

Collaboration – Building Bridges

Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival for 21 nights. He won the bet!

So how do we overcome the 4 barriers to collaboration that I mentioned in the last blog (what do you mean you haven’t read it)? Simple we network.

Now I know the minute I say the word ‘networking’ a little bit of you dies inside.

We’ve all been at those networking events where you notice a person desperately typing messages into their smartphone rather than talking to other networkers, even though they clearly have no reception or are in fact actually updating their Facebook page.

Most of us when we think of networking think that we either need to know thousands of people or we revert to asking our friends in our department or the same familiar faces for help.

If you are one of these people who has thousands of people in their contacts, regularly keep in contact via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, lunches, dinners, etc, etc, then brilliant.  But for most of us we have a job to do and keeping in contact with that many people is exhausting.

But it doesn’t have to be so hard.  I bet you know someone in your company who’s been around a few years, they’ve worked in different places in the company and they know a broad range of topics. Let’s call these people your ‘bridges.’

Can you and your leadership team identify the bridges in your company?  Can you get that group together to create a resource that the whole company knows about?  Can you get them to speak at events or start introducing these individuals to other departments?

Theses bridges are key to creating networks that foster collaboration. Even if they do not know how to solve your problem, they might know someone who can.

Bridges can facilitate networking opportunities that can help overcome the four barriers to collaboration (see last week’s blog).   But you can’t just rely on your bridges.  I’m sorry to say, you and your people need to be encouraged to start to talk to people outside your department or group.

Hensen in his book Collaboration believes that great networking is not about the number of people you know but rather how diverse your network is. The number of different types of people, units, expertise, technologies, and viewpoints is what counts.

For a company to successfully collaborate it must make sure that everyone in the company is encouraged to talk to different people within and outside the company.. It doesn’t have to happen every day, week or even month but you have to get different groups of people together on a number of occasions – both informally and formally. If you let everyone work in a Silo they will never communicate outside that silo.  Whereas, if you get them together, mix them up, make them to talk, get them to share with the group then you are fostering a collaborative environment.  This is not easy, people may resist, they may not see the benefits – still stuck in their silos – but if you lead by example, you will build bridges. 

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.


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