Tips to improve your global collaboration
Sarah Wiggins is the marketing content manager at Stravito. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Three tips to boost global insights collaboration.”
When collaboration efforts go awry it usually comes down to issues with communication. Catherine Durnell Cramton calls this the mutual knowledge problem and it can be particularly noticeable in large global teams. For example, some of the primary mutual knowledge failures include unevenly distributed information, differences in speed of access to information and failure to communicate and retain contextual information.
Below are three tips to help boost global insights collaboration at your organization.
1. Create centralized spaces
Whether you’re in an office, hybrid or fully remote, it’s essential to create centralized digital spaces. Of course, some tools are better suited to specialized uses, so it can be more practical to designate specific places for different types of information and communication. For example, you might choose to have all written communications in a specific Slack thread and use one cloud-based insights management platform for all market research and insights. The key here is to ensure that all your tools integrate to effectively create a centralized space. This will help save time, smooth processes and keep everyone in the loop with less effort. While this first tip might seem obvious, being clear about where everyone can find information and ensuring that everyone can easily access it often goes overlooked.
2. Understand synchronous and asynchronous communications
Video calls and instant messaging are great but making the most of real-time meetings is all about embracing asynchronous communications. By reducing the number of instant responses expected, it’s easier for everyone to enjoy more periods of deep, focused work. Particularly when it comes to reading and absorbing more complex information like research reports, asynchronous communications allow everyone to engage with material on their own terms. From a purely practical perspective, these forms of communication are also quite beneficial for teams that are spread across different countries, continents and time zones. While the occasional early morning or late-night meeting is inevitable at most global organizations, it helps if those occasions are chosen carefully. Giving everyone adequate time and space to prepare for real-time collaboration helps to elevate the quality of discussion.
3. Think about knowledge sharing
It’s also important to be intentional with how you share knowledge. The 5 Dimensions of Knowledge Sharing can be a useful framework to apply when sharing knowledge and insights on a global level. This means looking at what type of knowledge is being shared, why it’s being shared, who’s sharing/receiving it, how it’s being shared and when it’s being shared. Thinking about knowledge sharing in this way can be especially helpful when trying to lay the foundation for clear communication and identify any cultural differences. For example, Team A might share a research report with the broader group acting under the assumption that everyone will automatically know to read it thoroughly before the next check-in meeting. But that might not be evident to members of Team B unless it is directly stated. Creating consensus around knowledge sharing expectations and workflows can help to prevent stressful misunderstandings later on.
Tech isn’t the point, but it’s essential
The most advanced technology in the world won’t replace the human skills required for the impactful communication that underpins successful collaboration. But effective global collaboration is difficult (if not impossible) to achieve without the right tech to support it. That’s why it’s key to invest in solutions that put humans first. While each organization is unique, there are some key factors to pay attention to that can help you identify human-centric insights solutions. For example, a seamless user experience should be paramount and powerful technology like AI and machine learning should be leveraged to automate routine or tedious tasks. And of course, when looking at global insights collaboration, tools that can provide global access while also ensuring relevance for the individual are crucial.
Like most worthwhile efforts, enhancing the way you collaborate is an ongoing process. Making sure that you have the right technology to enable quick access to all relevant research and insights can give your global collaboration efforts a major boost.