The famous quote by Alexander Graham Bell, “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds”, accurately depicts the importance of collaboration in research. Collaboration is the key to fostering innovation, reducing redundancy and efficiently carrying out challenging tasks.
Even then, collaborative environments in research are scarce. While healthy competition between research teams may boost productivity and ideation, it is not sustainable. Collaborative research environments bring out the best in each team and fasten the ideation process.
By creating a foundation for discussing, debating, analyzing and leveraging their experiences, a collaborative environment ensures that research teams put their best foot forward every step of the way.
But how to create or shift to a collaborative research environment? This article is here to help you out. So, let’s dive in!
What do you mean by a Collaborative Environment?
In research, collaboration plays a key role in fostering innovation. When teams are exposed to an environment which encourages inter-team knowledge and resource transfer, it is called a collaborative environment.
For example, consider this scenario-
Alone, they can conduct research. But if they collaborate with the research and consumer insights teams, they can gather insights faster and focus on many more things related to the product launch, like brand awareness, social media etc. Moreover, the research and consumer insights teams will help the marketing team get a fresh perspective.
This scenario is an example of a collaborative environment. Whereas, if the marketing team were racing against the research team to see who could get faster insights, it would increase redundancy and elongate project deadlines. Moreover, they would not get to brainstorm about the product launch leading to a waste of time and potential.
What makes a good Collaborative Research Environment?
In research, a good collaborative environment can do wonders for the brand. Here are some characteristics you should be looking out for-
- Sharing of resources and information
- Easy access to data and research findings
- An open forum to discuss research findings and highlight them to all stakeholders
- Transparency and Trust in each other
- Sharing analysis, reports and other important documents
- Leveraging the other team’s strengths
Research is a tricky domain, but just as you put in the effort to know about your target audience and their opinions, take some time out to know about the other team. By leveraging their knowledge and vast experience, you can get fresh ideas and insights.
Moreover, you can use research platforms like Decode to store all your research findings and share them with other teams. They can add their comments and conduct their own research for your project. This helps in maintaining transparency and makes collaboration seamless.
Why is a Collaborative Environment Important in Research?
Just like the Avengers, you can achieve way more when you work with other teams. Here are a few reasons why collaboration is important in research-
- Promotes ideation and fosters innovation through brainstorming.
- Creates an amicable, open and healthy research environment.
- Makes accessibility of data, research and insights easy and seamless.
- Helps gather actionable insights quickly.
- Explore multiple research directions.
- Validate concepts and reduce personal bias.
- Overcome weaknesses and leverage the strengths of the other teams.
Also, imagine a scenario where teams who are trying to achieve the same goal are competing with each other. The narrative changes from “Let us launch a great product that consumers can relate to” to “What minor change will help me beat the other team”.
This competition mindset is more destructive than constructive.
A collaborative research environment brings all teams together and helps them achieve the best results through a joint effort. After all, united we stand, divided we fall.
9 Steps to Build a Collaborative Environment in Research
Now that we have discussed all of why a collaborative environment is an absolute necessity in research let us look at how you can build one-
Step 1: Use a Research Platform
Irrespective of the type of research you conduct, be like quantitative or qualitative, you need a common space to share all research findings. Also, this eliminates the need for all teams being in the same location to work on a project.
This promotes transparency and cross-functional knowledge transfer. If you do not know which research tool is right for you, try Decode. Decode is a user-friendly, AI-powered research platform that lets you conduct, store and analyze research all in one place. Others can access the research repository to review your findings, add more data or comments and conduct their own research as part of the project.
Step 2: Determine Your Own Strengths
Being honest about everyone's weaknesses becomes crucial in a collaborative setting. As you go on your journey to encourage collaboration, begin by assembling teams around people who complement one another. One team member covers the limitations of the other members, and vice versa. You'll quickly identify which team member will contribute to which component by assigning them to assignments that play to their strengths.
For example, if you are trying to get insights about how your product performs against your competitors, your marketing team can pair up with your consumer insights team and collaboratively conduct research. The marketing team can analyze the product design, and the consumer insights team can evaluate the consumer’s interaction with your product. By putting both pieces together, you will get holistic insights and the best results.
Step 3: Set Clear Research Expectations and Establish a Common Goal
Having a common goal and setting clear expectations keeps all teams in your research process on track. To avoid too many cooks spoiling the broth, it is important to divide responsibilities and keep checking the progress on the research platform.
You can make this happen by- Examining their positions and obligations, making their roles clear and embracing inter-disciplinary learning.
Step 4: Have an Open Mind
When you collaborate with others from your company, academia, agencies etc. you expand your horizons to incorporate their ideas, perspectives and opinions. Give each person a chance to approach every problem with a different perspective and to be open-minded about their actions and views. By having people share their experiences, the team becomes more secure and inclusive.
Step 5: Encourage Innovation
Innovation is the essential to stay ahead of the of the competition. But at times, in an attempt to try beat the other team, we forget that innovation needs to be treated as human capital. To create a collaborative environment, everyone involved needs to first foster a culture of innovation. This will help teams openly seek advice and ask for resources.
Step 6: Share Previous Research Findings
In a collaborative research environment, you should not be wasting time and resources conducting similar research.
For example, if the consumer research team has already conducted an in-depth survey about how consumer behavior has changed during and after COVID-19, as a marketer you should not be conducting similar research from scratch. Instead, access their research and build more on it if required.
Pro Tip : The best way to ensure all research findings are in one place, it is best to have an online research repository.
Step 7: Delegate Tasks
You can’t accomplish everything by yourself and you can’t always count on the same group of individuals. The best course of action is to delegate tasks. If you properly divide the task among people who have the most knowledge or experience to get the task done, you can reduce the project turn-around-time and directly create an impact in the company.
Step 8 : Publically Acknowledge a Team's Accomplishments
Celebrate your team's accomplishments for raising morale and productivity. Take the group out to lunch or have pizza delivered. Encourage them to use their achievement as an opportunity to inspire others. This is more likely to increase their self-assurance and drive them to work harder for the team. Make it clear to them that your efforts are appreciated.
Step 9 : Encourage Sense of Community
To feel safe, cared for, and supported, a sense of community is essential. No one wants to be a member of a group where they are treated unfairly. It negates the very purpose of cooperative effort and renders meaningful accomplishments unattainable. Make people experience a strong sense of community, feel more at ease, appropriately share expertise, and assist in resolving complex issues.
A collaborative research environment is essential for driving growth and fostering innovation. When teams across the globe come together to share their expertise over a common goal, it ensures quality results. Through brainstorming, debating, discussing, and sharing data, project deadlines can be met faster and bias can be reduced.
If you are wondering how to easily collaborate across the globe, look no further. Decode is an AI-enabled research platform where you can collaborate with ease. You can conduct research, share research findings and store organization wide data on the secured cloud server.