Weaving a collaborative culture into the organizational fabric

by March 19, 2020 0 comments

Soma Tah





Mujiruddin Shaikh, Market Tech Principal, ThoughtWorks India explains how a collaborative culture accelerates the value creation process in any organization, both internally and externally.



Today, software companies generally have multiple teams simultaneously working on multiple projects for multiple clients. The teams often have 100-150 people dispersed across different time-zones. They depend on agile practices and a culture of collaboration to stay productive and deliver quality products.  

Command and control approach does not work  

Let’s admit the fact that collaboration does not come naturally to most individuals and why will the software developers be any different? Most of the time they tend to focus more on the problems at hand and solve them individually. So, just asking them to collaborate or using particular collaboration tools do not necessarily help. Also, people who have been working all these years in cubicles and cabins find it a bit difficult to adjust to this new open and collaborative workplace culture.  

Hence, setting the right culture, the right environment is extremely crucial for letting people’s collaborative behaviour flourish. Once, they start seeing the advantage of it, then it becomes almost like their natural tendency.  

Promoting the culture of collaboration 

I think of collaboration in terms of three dimensions- from the individual, team, and organizational levels. 

If you don’t set the right culture in your organization, and there are no shared processes, people will focus more on individual achievements instead of team accomplishments. For example, many organizations reward their star performers, and that does not create the right incentive for people to collaborate. I feel that focusing more on team accomplishments, over individual achievements is an essential part of enabling people to collaborate at the individual level.  

In many organizations, developing team and testing teams work separately and collaborate through different tools, but that does not work very well in most cases. As we have cross-functional teams at ThoughtWorks, we deliberately avoid any silos between the teams. So, we make people with different skills and capabilities part of the same team to do the development, testing, and deployment more cohesively. We are also a big proponent of extreme programming and peer reviews. The quality of the product becomes much better in this process.  

At the organizational level, the focus should be on removing friction between different departments and create a digital platform for enabling seamless collaboration within the organization. It also makes the organization responsive to competition and customer needs.  

Retrospectives create a safer environment for collaboration  

Agile software teams made retrospective meetings popular and they certainly boost the collaborative spirit among people. For example, when people work in a team, a lot of learnings happens at the individual level. Retrospectives are a way of creating a trusted environment for people to reflect and share those learnings with others. It encourages the team to take some time off from the daily rigour, sit together and talk about what’s happening, give feedback such as what works well and what doesn’t so that they can improve individually and operate better as a team also.  

(The story first appeared in PCQuest magazine, March, 2020 edition) 

Also read:  In quest of Sentient, Unified, and Seamless collaborative experience 

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