How Businesses Can Create Diverse Teams to Solve Their More Unique Challenges

Most growing businesses face problems and roadblocks as they scale, but few know the real key to overcoming these barriers. It’s an issue that former Yahoo! exec and tech pioneer Tim Sanders revealed in his presentation at Upwork’s Work Without Limits™ Executive Summit. Through a series of examples, Sanders explained that most business leaders assume brilliant solutions come from lone geniuses, but that’s the wrong line of thinking.

The real key to tackling tough problems? Leaning on the collaboration of diverse, talented teams. For growing businesses in particular, outside talent and their unique expertise can help create a powerful dynamic when it comes to problem-solving.

Here’s a look at some of Sanders’ key points for why collaboration and diverse teams can help growing companies succeed.

Diverse teams bring fresh perspectives

Even geniuses can get stuck in a rut if they’re solely focused on their own roles and functions. To help get them out of their silos, companies should create more cross-functional teams to bring in fresh perspectives.

Sanders shared an example from Pixar’s production of Toy Story. The company created “brain trusts” that included several people from different functions. The brain trusts fostered a new kind of collaboration, and the resulting solutions kept production moving.

The concept of diverse teams lends itself very well to freelance talent, especially when a business needs outside experts with skills they don’t have in-house.

Want to get started? Brush up on these 3 Tips for Boosting Collaboration Between Employees and Freelancers first.

Freelance talent helps businesses stay ahead of the curve

Even brilliant, highly successful professionals can be so focused on their primary roles, they lose sight of how things are changing on the cutting edge. Or they lacking the niche expertise they need to try a new tactic or technology. In smaller companies, this can stall progress and eliminate huge opportunities.

Sanders warns that sometimes, organizations become obsolete when they’re in a leadership silo where no one tells you things have changed. When Yahoo! execs turned downed a pitch from the future founders of Twitter, it was based on previous, inside experience and an assumption that the technology wasn’t what consumers wanted. This created false constraints that Sanders argued could be avoided with the help of collaboration.

Move the needle with cross-functional teams

When it comes to winning a big account or launching a breakthrough product, bringing together individuals from cross functions can help keep things moving forward.

Sanders cited Miller Heiman Institute’s study of what they called World Class Sales and Marketing Organizations, which notes that when you bring a second perspective into a meeting, your chance of moving forward increases by 50 percent. If you add a third perspective, your chances of moving forward with the next play go up to 100 percent.

One tip: Keep an eye on team size. Having too many perspectives can actually slow progress.

The shift to teamwork 2.0

Today, technology enables organizations and individuals to work differently—teamwork 2.0. “Proximity, much like premise computing, is moving to the cloud,” said Sanders. “The right talent may not live in your market, or want to live there to join your organization.” Which means the savvy business leaders of today must learn how to collaborate with remote teams.

Here are some tips to help your organization get started with collaboration and communicate effectively in teamwork 2.0.

  • Favor visual communication over phone and email. Video collaboration tools allow screen sharing and human sharing, which makes remote workers feel less like they’re being delegated to and more united with the team. Sanders cites a study where participants reported teams who met over video got the job done 90 percent of the time, as opposed to 50 percent for email or phone users.
  • Show up prepared. Send everyone a project brief in advance of a meeting to lay out the problem, the opportunity, what’s in place now, and how it’s working. Then, give everyone an assignment and make it clear you expect collaboration from all participants.
  • Have the right collaboration tools in place. Many online collaboration tools are easy to use and some are free. For most teams, the basics should include:
    • Project management software, such as Basecamp or JIRA
    • Video conferencing tools, such as Google Hangouts or Skype
    • Online document sharing, such as Dropbox or Google Docs

Want more collaboration tips? Get more info in these three articles:

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