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If data is the new oil in today’s rapidly changing workspace environment, then collaboration is the new capital – because aligning teams to rapidly and intelligently get things done isn’t just a question of success: in the long run, it’s a matter of survival.

Of course, most organizations are already well aware that collaboration is essential. Unfortunately, they’re also aware that in their workspace, the activity that they reluctantly call collaboration is more aptly (or at least more honestly) described as chaos.

Workspace Wisdom_What to Do When Collaboration Turns into ChaosWhy chaos? Because instead of ushering work forward towards completion, team members find themselves obliged or compelled to knock it back and forth – and sometimes backwards. As such, instead of a straightforward path, the work journey resembles the frenetic flight of a pinball, precariously threatening to head down the gutter at any moment.

Fortunately, teams and organizations don’t have to let chaos reign in their workspace. Instead, they can transform it back into effective in-context collaboration with the following 3 tips:

1. Assign Roles & Responsibilities

An immense amount of workspace chaos is by default rather than design, because team members don’t clearly know how they should collaborate.

For example, team members who are included in emails or discussion posts may not understand why. Or they may believe that they’re being asked for input, when they’re actually being given a heads-up (or the other way around).

Mapping out roles and responsibilities – and adjusting the map as necessary – goes a long way towards helping team members actually collaborate vs. attempt to collaborate.

An immense amount of workspace chaos is by default rather than design, because team members don’t clearly know how they should collaborate.

For example, team members who are included in emails or discussion posts may not understand why. Or they may believe that they’re being asked for input, when they’re actually being given a heads-up (or the other way around).

Mapping out roles and responsibilities – and adjusting the map as necessary – goes a long way towards helping team members actually collaborate vs. attempt to collaborate.

By its very nature, collaboration – even for serious issues – has an inherently creative, organic and spontaneous quality. In other words, fresh ideas and insights are what matters; not abiding by Robert’s Rules of Order.

However, to keep collaboration from devolving into chaos, it’s vital to set and enforce basic standards, such as how long team members should take to respond to requests, the respectful tone that should characterize communications at all times, how disagreements should be resolved, who has final say or decision making authority, and so on.

Remember: the idea here isn’t to snuff out diversity and make everyone act the same. Rather, it’s to draw a line in the workspace sand so everyone knows where collaboration ends – and where chaos begins.

3. Make Technology Part of the Solution

Many organizations believe that their project management software is helping their teams collaborate. Sadly, many organizations are wrong.

Truly, it’s not their fault. Everything they read and heard about their project management software told a glorious collaboration story, complete with great out-of-the-box features and tools. Yet instead of bringing their people together and putting them on the same page, the software is doing the opposite: putting up walls and silos.

The solution – which is perhaps better described as liberation – is to send conventional project management software to the virtual dustbin, and replace it with a collaborative work management platform like Clarizen, which was built from the ground up to bring high performance teams together, align them to complete activities and achieve objectives, and make collaboration simple, easy, effective and enjoyable.

Learn More

If collaboration in your workspace is bordering on chaos – or may have crossed the border quite a while ago – then Clarizen can help. Learn more by taking a product tour, or watching a live demo.

Jen Howard
Jen is responsible for Clarizen's corporate positioning, market awareness and global events. She is a marketing professional with a proven track record of executing comprehensive marketing strategies to support business goals and objectives for technology start-ups. Most recently, Jen was corporate marketing manager at Marketo (NASDAQ: MKTO), where she was responsible for media coverage, analyst relations, the CEO’s social media profile and corporate events. Previously, Jen was the marketing and events manager at Autonet Mobile, the first internet-based telematics company and wireless internet service provider designed for vehicles (now part of Lear Corporation (NYSE: LEA). Jen holds a B.A. in art history from the University of California, Santa Barbara.