Diversity and collaboration are not easy to manage. Diversity and collaboration are messy. The whole point is to include diverse voices in order to bring out differences that give us new insight into a shared problem and potential sustainable solutions – and that simultaneously creates conflict and energy. If we start from a place of respecting the need for each voice, we provide fertile ground for collaboration to take root and grow.
COLLABORATION NEEDS INCLUSIVENESS AND DIVERSITY
Collaboration is an important factor for successful innovation and change. Indeed, collaboration is an imperative for most organizations today, including any organization undergoing change. Innovation requires collaboration between individuals, as well as systemic forms of collaboration that span silos, networks and surprising connections. And yet collaboration cannot be mandated. Collaboration just doesn’t work like that.
So how do we set up our change initiatives, projects and organizational cultures to foster collaboration at all levels? An environment that is right for collaboration must have a number of conditions present, both tangible and intangible. These include enabling processes and technologies as well as trust, respect and dialogue. I touch upon many of these in my paper.
Beyond the processes and technologies, at the heart of it, collaboration is made possible by how we see people, how we treat them and how we involve them in an initiative. Collaboration is more productive when we have diversity of ideas and perspectives. To achieve inclusiveness and diversity, we must identify all of the voices within a system and find a way to involve them in the initiative or – at the very least – represent their perspective to other stakeholders. But how do you identify all of the diverse voices in a system?