Having the best ideas in the world does not do you any good unless you execute them. Execution gives life to ideas and makes them a reality. Execution of significant initiatives is particularly challenging because it often involves many moving parts and multiple teams inside and outside the organization. Collaboration and coordination are the infrastructure, the engine you need to execute successfully. Without them, you will be limited in what you can accomplish.
For successful collaboration, expectations management is critical. Often, things break down because the teams involved have different expectations. They assign different levels of importance to the project and, hence, assign different priorities. That affects the amount of resources allocated and influences the commitment to timelines.
Avoid the train wreck and align expectations. Set the right context so all teams understand which aspects of the project are absolutely necessary for its success.
For some projects, meeting deadlines is most important, while for others, the quality of work may be the single most important criteria. Knowing which attributes constitute the definition of success guarantees better coordination.
Respect and trust
The foundation of collaboration is mutual respect and the spirit of cooperation. To cooperate is to have the right attitude of helpfulness and openness.
Often, different teams, whether they belong to different organizations or the same company, find it difficult to collaborate because they do not trust each other. It is not clear to everyone how success or failure will be shared. The fear is that others will take credit for success and deflect blame and fault for failure.
For effective collaboration, roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined and accountabilities be clearly and openly assigned. Nothing helps as much as creating a spirit and culture of collaboration by enforcing the right conduct and behavior.
The foundation of collaboration and coordination is communication, not the quantity of communication but the effectiveness.
Effective communication is not just about disseminating information. It is making sure others receive the information, process it, interpret it correctly and understand what is expected of them. Then the process is complete.
If information is communicated with the hope that the recipients will have the time to duly process and act on it, then you are putting the project at risk. It is the job of the communicator to ensure that the message is received and understood. Doesn’t that put an extra burden on the communicator? Shouldn’t you expect that people who receive the communication act on it judiciously? Yes and yes.
However, in this day and age where people are overcommitted and work on multiple projects simultaneously, taking extra care to follow up on critical communication items goes a long away to ensure flawless execution.
One problem with communication is overcommunication. People are often copied on emails, invited to meetings or involved in discussions where they have a marginal contribution to make and little to gain.
When we communicate, we must appreciate that we are making demands on the other’s time and attention. When we communicate incessantly, superfluously or profusely, we run the risk of being tuned out.
Collaboration and coordination need a constant vigil. Things can break down quickly. Ensuring the right expectations, respect and communication will help you execute effectively.
Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and WorldNews, Ravi Kathuria is a recognized thought leader. Featured on the “BusinessMakers” show, CBS Radio, and “Nightly Business Report,” he is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “How Cohesive is Your Company?: A Leadership Parable.” Kathuria is the president of Cohegic Corporation, a management consulting, executive and sales coaching firm, and president of the Houston Strategy Forum. Reach him at (281) 403-0250 or [email protected]