Using Collaboration to Improve the Way You Work

12 January 2015

We all take pride in our work and there is nothing worse than releasing a new product, service or system that you know could have been better. But here is a simple and brilliant way to improve your work: collaboration. 

Collaboration is a powerful tool that very quickly becomes discarded in the busyness of work life. As our teams grow, we can become more “departmentalised”, and as a result we tend to focus more on our own priorities, and miss so much of the richness of ideas that exist in other areas of church life. Just because your video editor doesn’t know how to write a line of HTML, doesn’t mean they don’t have some brilliant ideas for your next website.

SEE ALSO: 7 LESSONS FOR TECHNOLOGY LEADERS

I chatted with some of my friends from some great churches around the globe, and here are some practical tips for using collaboration to take your work to the next level. 

___

Josh Ferrara – Gateway Church, Director of Interactive Technology.

The best way to encourage collaboration is to first invite it. When I hit a problem or I'm struggling to develop something creatively, I need to be ok with sharing that with the people around me. It shows that this is a safe space and we’re not perfect. Collaboration is like openness and vulnerability in a relationship – you need to show it before you can expect it. If I want my team to be open with me, I have to be open and vulnerable with them first. 

Carmen Myers – Hillsong Church, Communications Project Manager

1. Get the team out of their usual office environment to stimulate creativity and avoid distraction (work / computer / phone).

2. Schedule the meeting beforehand, giving the team time to prepare or look for ideas / inspiration and have a think so they can bring something to the meeting.

3. Invite other departments – there is so much gold in involving people who think differently and can bring a different perspective to the table.

Ryan Hollingsworth – Elevation Church, Lead Designer / Communications Director

Great things happen when you have the same vision, goal, a shared enthusiasm, and an understanding that all of us better than one of us. When we have the same vision and goal, it takes out the favouritism for our own ideas. We don't want our idea, we want the best idea. When we share enthusiasm, we're starting from the same place and not having to pull or push other team members along. We’re more invested in the project and more likely to do better work and have stronger ideas. When we understand that all of us are better than one of us, we realize that we don't have to be responsible for having all the good ideas – we can spread them around and piggyback on other ideas to find the best solution.
 

Kyle Kutter – LifeChurch.tv, Church to Church Pastor

Collaboration has all to do with margin. Often, we have the desire to be collaborative but because of the process, time frames, deadlines or personal execution style there never seems to be time to stop and seek other people’s input or ideas. Build margin into your process and deadlines, and be proactive in collaborating. When a deadline is fast approaching, or already past, we are not as likely to hear other people’s ideas.

Holli Baumann – Hillsong Church, Web Content Coordinator 

Don’t just collaborate across departments, but also vertically across leadership levels. Staff, pastors, key team, volunteers and weekend church members. They all bring different perspectives and different biases.

Tim Schraeder – The Grid, Community Manager

Know your strengths. We are all uniquely gifted and talented to do something, not everything, and that is key when you're trying to collaborate with others. The value of what we are able to do together far exceeds anything we could do on our own. In order to do some of our best work we need to have others around us who are gifted in ways we aren’t. Own your part and be open to ideas and feedback from others, but don't try to own everything, just give 100% in the area of your strength.

___

One of the things we have just implemented at Hillsong is “Innovation Rooms” where people can brainstorm ideas around particular topics and leave their ideas in the room for others to come in and build upon. These ideas are then gathered and outworked at the key team meeting. 

That next great concept is right in front of you. I hope this inspires you to get some people together and go collaborate. I’d love to hear things you do to encourage collaboration and some of the great ideas that have come from your collaborations. 

James Leggott
Digital Manager, Hillsong Church.