10 Essential Conditions for Successful Project Collaboration
Effective collaboration is about a lot more than effective and advanced technology capabilities. In the end, it's really about communication.
Collaboration does not just happen by itself. It requires effort to lay a foundation to set the conditions that are ripe for fruitful, effective collaboration.
Here are ten conditions that need to be in place, and if any are missing, your ability to collaborate across the team and stakeholders will be diminished.
- Open environment - There must be a general environment where people are physically or virtually connected, and not separated from one another. There needs to be natural bridges, and not walls, as a distinct possibility among people.
- Information available to all - Sharing of information needs to be nearly ubiquitous, except for maybe a very few confidential documents that almost do not related to the project at all.
- Information is well organized for easy retrieval - All individuals must be able to easily access the information that is shared. It needs to be as user friendly as possible, and well-understood across the team what is there an how to get to it.
- Honesty - People must be genuinely honest - with themselves, with the organization, and with everyone on the team. This may take a few related items below.
- Integrity - This includes a combination of honesty and trust, where people are principled, self interest does not rule, and values are central.
- Responsibility - People need to be willing to take responsibility, and be accountable, for what they do and do not share, as well as what they do or do not contribute to the collaborative efforts of the team.
- Responsiveness - People need to take a very supportive attitude to each other across the team. They need to be willing to lend a hand whenever requested. Collaboration will take personal involvement.
- Willingness to share - Self-interest must be subordinate to the value of the team so that people do not horde information.
- People feel "safe" - Feeling safe means that anyone can make an mistake without fear of retribution. That means a mistake in a suggestion, in a comment or opinion, or in using or sharing information. the idea is to "free" people to participate, and not to hold back out of fear.
- Management and monitoring - The collaboration process will not happen and keep going forward by itself. It will require conscious effort on the part of the project management team and be a priority to the project manager.
Project teams need a lot more than technology to collaborate effectively. They need the keys to successful communication, and on top of that need an infrastructure that enables and facilities communication. Furthermore, the environment is not static; it can change at any time. Hence, collaboration requires strong management of the process to ensure that the environment continues to promote and support the ten factors above.