A few years ago I worked with a company that had built a fancy new open plan office to 'enhance collaboration'. When the teams moved to the new office, they no longer had walls between them but there were still barriers. It was amazing to see that those who didn't speak to each other before the move, still didn't speak to each other afterward. The physical walls had been replaced by 'invisible' walls, a bit like Get Smart's cone of silence.
Changing the physical environment might help in some cases, but we want to create value, not just artifacts. Unless people feel comfortable engaging with one another, the benefits won't be realised. For collaboration to be purposeful it requires a conscious decision and deliberate effort to bring people together who might normally just pass in the hall.
What are you doing to create a safe space for collaboration?
This is the first of three articles on collaboration. As well as being safe, collaboration needs to be structured and seamless. You can read article two here, and article three here.