Is Your Corporate Culture Standing in the Way of Collaboration?

Inspired Collaboration hinges on 3 key elements: technology, environment and culture. You can have the latest & greatest technology and meeting room facilities, and still be missing the boat when it comes to effective communication and collaboration in your meetings if your corporate culture acts a hurdle.

Last year back I was witness to what happens when the appropriate culture is missing. A large manufacturing client invited me in to their facility to witness first-hand the use of their newly-installed SMART Board. I was a fly-on-the wall of a design review session involving a large group of engineers, along with the project manager and engineering department head. A number of the engineers were joined remotely to the meeting using audio & data conferencing. The meeting started well with lots of engagement from all participants, both local and remote. About half-way through the session there was a discussion around a particular component and a change to it that was required by the marketing department. A lot of different ideas were being evaluated with great use of the available collaboration technology, but the department head wanted to quickly move on to the next agenda item. While sitting down at the back of the room, he picked up a laser pointer and used it to highlight on the SMART Board where he wanted the change to be made, and asked the group to move on. While everyone in the room could see what he was pointing to, those joined remotely had no idea.

At the end of the meeting I talked to the department head about his use of the laser pointer, and reminded him that only those in the room would have seen what he was referring to. But what was really disconcerting was that not one of the remote attendees spoke up to let him know that they didn’t understand what he was referring to. The component that the department head highlighted was primarily the responsibility of those remote engineers, and none of them asked for clarification on this poor communication exchange.

This was an example of the company’s culture inhibiting the group of engineers from speaking up and asking for clarification. This organization’s culture did not foster open communication up and down the hierarchy, making the remote engineers uncomfortable to be asking for clarification.
I found out later that a second meeting had to be called between the engineers, without the department head, so that the change could be communicated properly to those that had to make it. Obviously not an effective use of the team’s time, and far from “inspired collaboration”.

Consider your organization’s culture and the effect that it has on collaboration. Culture is a key element to enabling truly inspired collaboration. Does your culture foster free flow of information across job levels, and does it support speaking up when key ideas/actions are not well understood?

How to create a collaboration friendly environment for your team? We’ll talk about this in another blog post. Stay tuned!

Andy Ebbern
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About Andy Ebbern

Andy Ebbern is a Collaboration Consultant at SMART Technologies, focused on the application of collaboration technologies to enterprise meeting use cases. Prior to SMART, Andy spent 20 years in IT & Telecom supporting enterprise communication and collaboration solutions for customers across North America. Outside of SMART, Andy likes to unwind by scaring himself silly on his dirt bike.