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A Survey of Different Collaboration Techniques

written by: George Garza•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 3/28/2011

If we were to look at how businesses or organizations succeed, we would have to say that how individuals collaborate to work for a common goal or objective--how they perceive a problem and their approach to solving it--determines the success or failure of the operation.

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    Chatting

    I remember reading about an incident during World War II when General Leslie Groves was speaking to Dr. Robert Oppenheimer about the need for secrecy for the Manhattan project. The problem, said General Groves, was that the scientists could not keep quiet about what they were doing. Oppenheimer replied that that was how science was conducted, by discussion…to open up new avenues of ideas. Groves wanted secrecy to protect the Manhattan project. Oppenheimer wanted openness to conduct science. So Oppenheimer suggested that they move the scientists to a remote location where they could talk and discuss science, but it would have to be in a secure location, so the project could be protected. Groves liked that, and so Los Alamos, New Mexico, became the center of the Manhattan Project, which built the first nuclear bomb. The upshot was that chatting in an open way created a solution that two individuals needed, and both were satisfied with the result.

    Chatting as one of the effective collaboration techniques can be under utilized because it may not occur in a "formal" setting. Chatting can be important because it allows people to talk while their guard is down, that the conversation is "not on the record" even though it could be.

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    Brainstorming

    Brainstorming is a process that allows individuals to present any number of ideas for review. Some may not be relevant, others may be relevant only if modified. The point of brainstorming is to indulge in contradictory as well as congruent ideas to better assess what the correct solution could be and the best way to approach it.

    For example, consider the notion of trying to decide on what a new website should contain. Does it have images, colors; does it have audio and video presentation? Should the website be a portal to different areas in the web? Answers can be very specific citing the business environment, or very generic citing how other websites perform. But the overall approach is not hamstrung by preconceived notions.

    Here are some Examples of Brainstorming Business Processes.

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    Project Planning

    Working on a project will bring different people together to identify the quickest way to get to the completion of a project. All participants can be expected to offer their own version on how to approach a solution that shows what part in the project they are involved with. Project planning involves multiple individuals working at what would be different sections of the project in a way that unifies the parts to create a successful whole.

    Pert Chart with 5 Milestones 

    Image by Jeremy Kemp, Wikimedia Commons.

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    Meetings

    It is not enough to have informal chats, or even to sit an plan the project; one must have meetings that assess the effects of the collaboration. How well is the project going, how well are the objectives being met, how well are the people working together, and will the goal be reached in time?

    Meetings can be a time when unspoken attitudes or problems can become known and addressed. This is when you can discuss the whole operation and assess its success before the completion time.

    Training meeting in an Ecodesign Stainless Steel Company in Brazil 

    Team Meetings: How to Ensure Efficiency and Effectiveness contains more information on this.

    Image Source: Alex Rio Brazil, Wikimedia Commons.

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    Team Building

    When the ideas are in place, when the goals are understood and a consensus is formed on how to approach and reach the goal, it is important to have the appropriate team that can bring it all together. The team must agree on the overall outcome or goal, and must be satisfied that the approach that is in motion is the best one. A team should be populated with those who see that the outcome can be accomplished, and will not hurt or hinder the project, even if only by indifference. All participants must be responsive.

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    Source

    Johansen, Simone. Appell-link.com. East Team Collaboration Techniques for Modern Times, retrieved at http://www.apell-link.com/easy-team-collaboration-techniques-for-modern-times

    Rebori, Marlene. Journal of Extension. Two Techniques to Foster Collaboration Within a Group (abstract), retrieved at http://www.joe.org/joe/2000august/tt4.php