Larger teams generate better concepts, and the more diverse the team is, the higher the impact of their innovation efforts. That’s the key takeaway from a recent field study that showed how mixing up different departments and putting the right software in their hands can be an innovative idea in and of itself.
Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) is a hot topic these days. Especially the collaboration part, and especially in the innovation world. According to insights authority Nielsen, getting diverse collaborators from different departments/professions creates more opportunities to identify a single terrific idea.
Teams of six or more people reportedly generate concepts that perform 58% better with consumers in pre-market testing than starting-point concepts developed by teams of just two people. But this wasn’t exactly a tough nut to crack. The more interesting findings in this research were yet to seep in, when surveyors found that more diverse teams – using collaborators from different functional roles, like marketing, consumer insights, sales, R&D etc. – generate much better concepts.
When bigger IS better
According to data, teams with representatives from four or more positions generated concepts that performed 46% better than teams with fewer functional roles represented.
In reality, however, companies struggle to include collaborators from teams outside of consumer insights realms. More than half of the projects (54%) involve only one or two people with a direct role in brainstorming these concepts (if we can even use the term when referring to a single person). 70% of the collaborators in Nielsen’s survey were marketing people, or hailed from a consumer-oriented role. Yet the product concepts generated by teams that included people from realms like R&D and sales performed 18% better. This figure can be even higher when you factor in not just the right people, but also the right software.
Ingredients for cross-functional collaboration
The research cites a few barriers to collaboration, such as not having enough time to invite feedback from others, having too many ideas to manage, risk of conflict among stakeholders, and a fear of losing control of the project’s direction. But there’s a solution, and it’s more virtual than physical. Researchers recommend that companies adopt collaboration software that allows project owners to manage a large number of ideas and feedback from many parties.
Hubgets fixed this problem before these questions were even asked. With Hubgets, teams and individual team members alike can have virtual meetings, one-on-one private conversations, group sessions, announcements, selective mass messaging, all indexed, tagged and searchable for any member to tap as resources and inspiration – including newcomers.
Of course, it befalls on senior management to lift some of the barriers by enabling cross-functional collaboration, set expectations, and make the necessary changes at an organizational level. The tools are an essential ingredient and so is decision-making. We call this teamwork 😉