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“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” Charles Darwin

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Henry Ford

“Great discoveries and improvements invariability involve cooperation of many minds.” -Alexander Graham Bell

Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people." Steve Jobs

“The role of citizen in a democracy does not end with your vote.” – Barack Obama

The Five Principles of Collaboration: Applying Trust, Respect, Willingness, Empowerment, and Effective Communication to Human Relationships.- J. Ibeh Agbanyim

Research conducted and published in Harvard Business Review of 15 multinational companies. The teams were large, virtual, diverse, highly educated specialists. But, these four elements made it hard for the teams to get anything done. Why? The qualities considered important for success are also the qualities that cause failure.

How to avoid failure? Collaborate

· Sharing knowledge freely

· Learn from one another

· Shift workloads flexibly to break up unexpected bottlenecks.

· Help one another complete jobs and meet deadlines.

· Share resources

Take a brief look at why just these 5 issues are critical

Traditionally the ideal large team was 20 people. Virtual meetings led to increasing size beyond that 20. Research shows that once the team goes beyond 20, collaboration decreases. Now, with a organization culture built on collaboration, large teams can achieve high levels of cooperation. It takes some significant investment in the benefits of collaboration.

Only eight of the 100 plus factors used in the statistical analysis in the HBR study are viable, and they fall into four main categories.

Executive Support, HR Practices, Strength of the Team Leader, Structure of the Team.

Executive Support

Teams do best when leadership invests in building and maintaining social relationships, demonstrate collaborative behavior and create a culture in which everyone gives time and knowledge freely.

HR Practices

Important that there is no assumption that HR Practices requires an HR department.

HR practices must be ingrained in even the smallest organizations. Fundamentals are: Performance Management, Promotion, Rewards and Training. Sound too much like a large corporation? Here are the essentials:

· Training in skills related to collaborative behavior.

· Support for informal community building

Strength of the Team Leader

The most productive and innovative teams are generally led by people who are both task and relationship oriented. And the leaders change their “style” as the project winds its way thru various stages. Early stage: task leadership. Mid-Stage: Goals and accountabilities established tensions related to knowledge sharing came to the surface. Ambidextrous teams succeeded.

Team Formation and Structure

The best teams and outcomes are based on the makeup and structure of the teams themselves.

Trust is the most important. Forming teams that have prior relationships significantly increases the chances of a project’s success. Newly formed teams without the relationships will require taking time to gain real trust.

Next: Watch for our next Blog chapter on Collaboration.

Stephen N. Anderson

Managing Director

Marquis Advisory Group




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