Bringing people together

We talk about collaboration a lot as Insight professionals, but what does this look like in reality? How can the simple act of bringing people together improve business performance?

Faye McDonald, Consumer Insight Manager in Guest blog

19 February 2020

An increasing body of research seems to suggest that working together makes companies more productive and drives higher returns for shareholders.

A recent joint study found that companies that promoted collaborative working were five times more likely to be high performing (i.e. seeing sales growth).  And a Stanford study from a few years ago found that even the mere perception of working collectively on a task can improve performance. Participants in the research who were primed to act collaboratively stuck at their task 64% longer than their solitary peers, whilst also reporting higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels and a higher success rate. What's more, this impact persisted for several weeks.

So what can promote a more collaborative work environment?

There are some key factors that influence how we behave at work, such as the physical design of the workplace or how employee behaviours are rewarded and measured. These are very tangible and specific levers that are often in the hands of a few individuals at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. But these aren’t the only factors that can change work culture. Less noticeable dynamics such as the flow of information and the establishment of a decision-making process can impact collaboration across the business. And both of these factors can be transformed by the Insight function.

In order to work collaboratively and drive decision making, group members need to come to a consensus as to which information is required and prioritised. Large organisations often have a variety of data sources, which often contradict each other, making it difficult to agree on a single view or narrative, let alone agree and make decisions based on the information provided. This is particularly the case for consumer and customer data. An Insight function should aim to collate all the customer and consumer information and present a holistic view. This holistic view creates a horizontal information flow which fosters collaboration by providing a consistent knowledge foundation for the entire organisation.

Directing the flow of information will also have an immediate effect on the decision making process in the business. Providing solid data makes it easier for decision makers to rely on the insights provided and use it as evidence in their decision making process. Evidence-based decisions bring a focus on solutions rather than just politics and this rebalancing of priorities should be at the heart of every Insight function. It will unlock hidden business opportunities and help it become more efficient and effective.

Every system, every change must be run and implemented by people – and only through shared knowledge and understanding can we truly affect the changes we want to make and provide a powerful purpose: putting the customer first with evidence-based decision making.

The ability to get things done with collaborative networks is the next generation in human productivity and insight can be the focal point for these networks.