December 2019
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TD Magazine

Innovation Through Collaboration

Monday, December 2, 2019

Collaboration has become a top priority for companies across all industries.

According to Meeting the Challenges of Developing Collaborative Teams for Future Success, 89 percent of business leaders are prioritizing collaboration and teamwork as part of their organization’s overall workforce strategies. However, the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services research found that investment in technology—not investment in humans—is the priority. Most companies have made technology (collaboration tools, applications, and mobility) the focus of their efforts to prepare for the future of work, yet only half as many are enabling the acquisition of “power skills” (such as communicating verbally and in writing, solving complex problems, and thinking critically) relevant to the future of work.


While 59 percent of responding organizations anticipate an overall increase in worker efficiency, 44 percent said their companies lack team leadership or team management expertise.

For a collaborative and team-based approach to work to succeed, trust, communication, leadership, and insightful decision making are necessary. What’s troubling is that respondents identified deficiencies in those areas. In particular, they cited a lack of information transparency and knowledge sharing, clear decision making, team leadership and management expertise, and trust between team members as the largest barriers to operationalizing work by collaborative teams.

More than half of respondents believe that organizations need to change their approach to the scope and decision rights of teams, their overall information-sharing practices, and their company culture, as well as that management roles and responsibilities must be more clearly defined and implemented. More than one-third of survey respondents also call for changes in performance metrics and reviews for a team-based approach to succeed.


Strong interpersonal skills such as relatability and nonjudgment (91 percent) checked in as the top skill respondents feel that individual team members need to be most efficient and productive at. Empathy, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and a capacity to inspire others also rank highly, with more than 50 percent response rates.

The report lays out a path for companies to take:

  • Emphasize communication.
  • Establish teamwork performance guidelines.
  • Encourage experimentation.
  • Seek out expert advice.
About the Author

Stephen Newman is a former writer/editor for ATD.

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