top of page

Harnessing the collective wisdom of teams; collaboration @work

Today's workplace demands more collaboration than ever before. The nature of our work has narrowed through specialisation and yet the problems we’re solving are multidisciplinary and require working together across specialist teams to get the job done.

Collaboration is defined as the 'action of working with someone to create value’ and is a necessary skill that everyone should be encouraged to sharpen given the universally accepted truth that two heads are better than one! The accelerated adoption of digital tools and tech throughout the pandemic only validates the importance of collaboration at work. Now fast forward to 2025 where the National Skills Commission reports Australians will spend 1.2million more hours per week collaborating. Staggering isn’t it!?

Now is the time for Leaders to cultivate the conditions that enable their teams to collaborate effectively, accessing the collective wisdom - a higher ground that can’t be achieved by bringing similar strengths and skills together. It relies on diversity and inclusion at the heart of it and must support equal and active participation from all team members.

Diversity, inclusion, equal & active participation

The benefits of accessing the collective wisdom doesn’t just stop at problem solving. It allows for employees to upskill, develop, and learn from one another. It creates efficiencies and increases capacity and an appetite to tackle and adapt to change. It improves engagement and builds stronger social connections and trust. It allows organisations to deliver innovative products and services all of which result in increased productivity.

Whilst it might seem logical to bring all your high performers together to work on a project, that doesn’t always yield the best results.

You get more with diversity, it’s a richer experience.

Richard Hackman, a pioneer in organizational behaviour uncovered through his research that there are certain ‘enabling conditions’ that allow collaboration to flourish, debunking that it’s personalities, behavioural styles and attitudes that are critical to how well teams collaborate. These enabling conditions include a compelling direction, strong structure and supportive context. Building on this research was Google’s own Project Aristotle which supports that it's how teams worked together that made all the difference.

Leaders yield better outcomes building a culture and teams that aren’t just carbon copies of your top performers, but those that can contribute in other meaningful ways. You’re connected by the common goal or purpose, bringing complementary strengths and skills. Combined, you’re a stronger team than what you would be with the same strengths and skills.

Unlocking the collective wisdom of teams requires Leaders to be clear on the team's purpose as well as inspire their teams to not only find meaning in what they do day to day, but also understand their customer and stakeholder impact. Crucially Leaders play a role in moderating ‘team time’ ensuring diverse voices and views are surfaced and that each team member can participate and contribute equally.

Leaders should be aware of not only what’s being said but what is unsaid to amplify the quiet voices.

If you find yourself faced with a quieter team, take the opportunity to amplify the voice you do receive. Safety also needs to exist, it’s a condition where people feel that they won't be shut down or ridiculed. Use that opportunity to role model what people in the team would expect if they too shared their thoughts. And in your 1-2-1s, set the stage early and invite people as they share ideas with you to bring it to team time, playing their cheerleader but also giving people the time to prepare for the moment when you do want to share their voice.

Sometimes people don’t speak up because they don't know what they don't know. As I like to call it, the DKDK. It’s only possible to unearth this through joint discovery and exploration. Consider out of the box questions to help people ideate to get them thinking and seeing a situation differently (and even change up the environment). What don’t we know? What does the ideal future goal feel like, what would be happening around us? What are we telling ourselves? What culture is needed? Who and what would benefit? If we said yes to this, what would we be saying no to? What would others say? And so on.

Ultimately behind the teams that achieved more, were Leaders that created enabling conditions for collaboration. These leaders support diversity through skilfully curating their team’s strengths and capabilities and leveraging the richness of different viewpoints, harnessing the team’s collective wisdom.

So, consider building a team and culture that aren’t just carbon copies of each other, but can contribute different perspectives, skills and strengths, with everyone connected by the common goal or purpose.

To find out how PeopleQ can help, contact us today for more information on Leading with EQ and a PQfactor demo.



bottom of page