Many elements are vital to a growing non-profit’s success. A financially-astute leader is one. A confident and motivated program staff is another. But starting and growing a non-profit requires more than employees with extensive functional skills and appropriate personal characteristics.
Growing requires collaboration – namely, the deployment of employees in a way that allows them to work together to problem-solve and act with a shared sense of urgency.
When this occurs, group members come to leverage the strengths of one another as they work to achieve shared objectives vital to the organization’s growth. Also, mutual learning takes place, which increases the probability that each employee’s performance will evolve from good to better and then best. In turn, a non-profit’s impact improves as well.
As collaboration occurs, teams leverage individual differences to produce exceptional outcomes. This knowledge sharing creates a learning enterprise in which employees more readily identify solutions to problems. As a consequence, the organization may become more operationally and financially successful.
There are many reasons that collaboration has these positive effects, not the least of which is the ability of an organization to make the best use of available skills.
Makes the Best Use of Available Skills
A collaborative environment makes a range of disciplines accessible on an as-needed basis, which leads to the efficient use of employee talent in a way that isn’t possible otherwise. Collaboration allows multiple individuals to participate in the completion of a task at hand, which makes it more likely that the right talent is available at the right time. With collaboration, tasks are completed more efficiently, leaving more time for a staff to concentrate on activities that contribute to growth.
Facilitates Problem Solving
Collaboration allows an organization to throw the most skilled resources at a problem, which may mean a solution is identified more quickly and more cost-effectively than might be possible otherwise. Leveraging the most appropriate resources means a team’s overall functional breadth and depth increases, which can improve the quality of a project’s processes and end products.
In addition, diverse and complimentary talent may enhance individual work processes as each employee becomes a part of a greater whole, which can positively affect culture. It’s the change in culture that contributes to new thinking, which may lead to new products and new ways to use existing products, each of which contributes to non-profit’s growth.
Leverages Individual Differences
Asking employees with very different skills to collaborate to accomplish an objective leverages individual knowledge, strengths and capabilities and maximizes organizational potential. A team succeeds or fails according to the combined capabilities and commitment of the individuals involved.
Deploying a variety of unique strengths and skills advances a team’s understanding of a problem, which can lead to faster problem scoping and solution formulation, and more effective solutions.
Builds Organization Knowledge
A group brings different perspectives to a problem at hand. As individuals share their perspectives, each team member considers problems from multiple viewpoints and the person begins to think like the group.
Likewise, as each individual demonstrates a particular skill, other team members may learn these skills, which will be helpful when attempting to accomplish new goals. In effect, team interaction allows team knowledge to build up, like compound interest.
Creates a Learning Enterprise
Collaboration provides an opportunity to move beyond learning management systems and content to learning in context, which can be empowering to an entire team.
When two people work together, it’s inevitable that they share knowledge, which contributes to a culture that supports ongoing learning. Consequently, collaboration creates a safety net that protects an organiztion from a lack of appropriate knowledge.
As an individual collaborates with others, his knowledge expands as does the reach of his knowledge. When this occurs throughout the organization, its knowledge boundaries expand leading to new opportunities and new ways of doing things.
Collaboration supports efforts to act with a shared sense of urgency by deploying employees with particular skills in a variety of ways. Collaboration is also an effective means of problem solving because it allows an organization to leverage individual employee differences, evaluate employee efforts in the aggregate and create a learning enterprise. When problems are solved more readily, resources become available to achieve other objectives, including growth.