Defining Team Collaboration – What does it really mean?


Collaboration has become one of the most clichéd terms of management terminology.

So many definitions. So deep a meaning

Every organization, every Chief Executive, every management guru, is talking about it every now and then. Everyone is talking about the importance of collaboration, its significance in various aspects and the so-called ways to achieve it. The common man sitting out there, or the real employee, to whom all this information is bombarded, remains untouched. The definition or the methods, they just don’t talk about it.

So after all the reading, researching and analyzing what a person can possibly do, one will end up with searching on Google.

And, Google will give you 26.1 million results in 0.45 seconds. And, out of these 26.1 million results, if you’re lucky, you’ll end up finding the real meaning of team collaboration, assuming that you go through each and every line of the 26.1 million results. In case you can’t, this might be of some help:

Team Collaboration is a confluence of multi-dimensional understanding. In order  to understand it, one has to go through all of them.

Want to get a better understanding of it? Go on to read the following.

  1. Synergy:

Ever listened to fusion music? Or the collaboration of two different music artists? The synergy through collaboration is clearly visible; and that too when the artists are from the different genre.

Similar is the case of Team Collaboration in organizational perspective!

Team Collaboration amplifies the diversity

Working to achieve common goal

Team collaboration is about creating synergies where people from different backgrounds, different histories can come together and work towards a common goal. This goal will not only be helpful for the team and organization but will also help the team members grow in some aspect. So, to create a synergy it would be important to bring people on similar rhythms & common platforms. 

Including one and all in a team

Start-ups understand the meaning of synergy. Partnerships, Mergers, Acquisitions- they all have one fundamental criterion at the center: Synergy.

The team being merged-Will it suit our culture? Will they be able to match  up with our working style? Will they be able to perform as we do?

The questions should be answered by anyone trying to establish collaboration. Keeping everyone on the same page and such that they get to showcase their best skills individually and give scope to others to portray theirs is what Synergy simply is.

  1. Creating Value:

One simple question- Why should you collaborate?

If you can handle all the work by yourself then there’s no need for you to collaborate, right? Wrong.

Collaboration adds value to your outcome. A Product Designer can only design a product but would require a Sales Expert to make money out of it. For every Steve Wozniak, there has to be a Steve Jobs.

Collaboration strengthens you on a holistic level.

You might be great with math but you are ineffective when it comes to interacting with people. In order to run a company, you need to collaborate with someone who is good at communicating and getting things done accordingly.

A cricket team with 11 Batsmen. No matter how good they’re with their individual talents, they’ll never be able to win the match all by themselves.

But, hit the correct balance of bowler, batsmen, wicketkeeper and you end up with a team that can function just like a machine with small parts functioning to their best.

A collaborative team will be as good as its smallest unit. And, this is how all these small units come up together to add value to the overall outcome.

  1. Bringing Parity:

The parity can be in terms of workspace and values to be shared, the morale to be inculcated, or something as small as the deadline to be met. Everyone in the team while collaborating should be on the same page.

The entire team should function as a single unit: Shared Goals, values, and mutual trust. The key to effective collaboration is synchronization and to attain it, everyone should be exposed to similar intricacies of a shared objective.

In today’s scenario, achieving parity might be possible with the integration of technology. Shared workspaces and collaboration tools are helping to bring people on the same platform.

For everyone to reach at the same place at the same time, it becomes essential to have the same vision.

  1. Clarifying the individual roles:

The entire team must have one objective. But different experts from different backgrounds are required to co-align. If this is done without setting some ground rules, the team is inviting chaos.

Vested interests should be taken care of

Irrespective of the benefits derived from the team goals, individuals possess an inclination to know “What’s in it for me?

When team members are aware of the common goal, it helps them understand their individual contributions required to achieve that goal.

If instead of 4, 8 people show up to change the wheels of an F1 car when it reaches its pit, instead of saving time, they’ll end up wasting more of it.

Ambiguity creates confusion

When individual roles aren’t defined, it creates a whole lot of ambiguity amongst the team members. That’s not all, the team may end up over-using its resources!

So, Team Collaboration simply is creating a space for people to work in synergy towards achieving a common objective whilst adding value to the overall outcome.

That said and done, Team Collaboration isn’t a tangible objective which can be achieved instantly by following a certain number of steps. 

Team Collaboration is a part of Organizational Culture which has to be created by bringing down all the possible walls and creating a value system where people are brought in not for who they are, but for what they can do.