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Tips to Enhance Collaboration

How can we promote collaboration and reduce fear?

In a previous article ‘Why Should We Collaborate Across Sectors?’, we discussed the importance of trans-sectoral collaboration, with examples of why we fear it. This article aims to dissect and provide methods in which we can promote collaboration to reduce fear, as well as develop options on further industry-academia innovation. These 3 tips are a foundational platform that can kickstart the process.

  1. Communicate

    It sounds simple but communication isn’t as straightforward as we want it to be. An article in MIT Sloan Review describes how in order to engage in successful collaboration, you need to disclose strategies and important goals between company and academic platforms. This ensures the development of a high-impact solution and enhances common trust.

    Here’s what to do:

    Secrecy inhibits true, effective collaboration. If you are concerned about sustaining the ‘competitive edge’, it would be valuable to look into creating a Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in order between those involved. This ensures your ideas and needs are protected. An article on the value of NDA’s can be found here. Finally, it’s important to highlight that companies and academic platforms work with different purpose-driven goals. Discuss how to align values clearly.

  2. Get vulnerable and learn to trust

    According to an article published in DZone, in order to fully harness the potential of true collaboration, we need the right platform to have our voices heard. When we don’t have that option because we can’t get rid of the idea of being judged or, worse yet, socially rejected, we’re less likely to share ideas. Social rejection is just as painful as physical pain, as a study from UCLA highlighted similar brain responses in both scenarios. Social acceptance was necessary for our survival, so this makes sense that we would do whatever we could to be taken into a group.

    If our needs of being heard and provided the platform to communicate are not met, commitment and engagement within the workplace can stagnate. We need to practice empathy, and increase emotional intelligence. Millennials make up the majority of the workplace nowadays, so it’s important to engage with what studies show us on behavior and learn how to increase engagement. The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows there is little trust in the workplace. Goals amongst the demographic and organizations appear to differ; the workers, society, and the environment are sidelined for profit in their eyes. 

    Here’s what to do:

    According to Dr. Dick Swaab, founder of the Netherlands Brain Bank and Professor of Neurobiology at University of Amsterdam, in the book ‘We Are Our Brains’, oxytocin suppresses fear. We know oxytocin as the ‘love hormone’. Upon performing social interactions that enhance bonding, there is an increase in oxytocin levels both in the brain and circulating blood. This circulating oxytocin targets a brain region called the amygdala, which plays a role in fear and aggression. Thus, it suppresses the response.

    Extrapolating from the above, the more you interact, present ideas, share, and engage in social activities with those you are collaborating with, the less fearful you become. Once you overcome the setback, it becomes easier. There’s something to ‘practice makes perfect’. Practice emotional intelligence. The ‘Best Workplaces for Millennials’ report highlights how providing sincere interest in the individual can lead to increased innovation and agility within their contributions. It doesn’t hurt to be empathetic. 

  3. See yourselves as a single entity

    Under certain circumstances, we feel empowered when working with a group. When does that happen? Using the word ‘we’, instead of ‘I’ or ‘me’, shifts the narrative. 

    A study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, in collaboration with the IESE Business school showed that when provided performance feedback, showed how groups would shift behavior based on whether it was provided as a group or against one another. When ranked against others, individuals turned to selfish behavior despite needing to cooperate. When provided performance feedback as a group, behavior shifted to a more cooperative state and enhanced success. 

    Here’s what to do:

    It’s important to set clear goals as a group to follow and work together. Keep in mind that each individual has a set of specific skill sets and attributes they can bring. Make sure to harness those and make some individual expectations, too. Lastly, they need to align with the overarching plot. Not only will this provide more clear-cut solutions, it will help to foster team relationships and morale. Don’t forget to celebrate successes when they come. 

Implementation, implementation, implementation

These 3 tips provide insight into methods in which to collaborate. Emotional and social intelligence are more important than ever. We need to harness these skills. We need the human touch. The next step is to implement this into academic-industrial collaboration. Stay tuned for more.

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