We're exploring new perspectives and ideas regarding collaboration and its benefits. To help us in this quest, we're collaborating with The Motley Fool, a renowned leader in innovative collaborative experiences. The Motley Fool are here to help us understand their unique approach to making teamwork better and easier.
From the much-loved Post-it® Super Sticky Note, to Post-it® Dry Erase Products, Post-it® Brand offers a number of solutions aimed at bringing out the very best teamwork experiences amongst your colleagues. However, we know that teamwork doesn't begin and end with stationery, nor can it be mastered with just a handful of techniques.
Collaboration is a critical component in nurturing innovation, and with that focus comes a myriad of techniques that claim to truly unleash your company’s collaborative potential. However, The Motley Fool believes in a completely different approach when it comes to collaborative opportunities and the productivity gains that can result.
Ultimately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to building and stimulating a collaborative culture,” says Mark Brooks, Chief Intelligence Officer at The Motley Fool. “You have to look internally and see what’s working.
“And sometimes you also have to let things happen, observe why they’re happening, and build/test from there.”
For instance, The Motley Fool regularly hosts free pizza lunches in the name of bringing different people together. While the benefits might not be apparent on the surface, the potential for collaborative gains is immense.
“First off, it’s really hard to pass up free pizza,” notes Brooks. “But food and conversation tend to go great together. And with those conversations, people tend to learn more about each other — what they’re passionate about, how they communicate, etc. It might not be explicit collaboration at that point, but it could definitely lead to further collaboration down the road, as we develop new projects that might bring various people and passions together.”
As well as pizza, The Motley Fool also hosts a variety of games and events that the company is nearly just as famous for. As well as hosting the Foolympics — a two-week, company-wide event in which teams compete against each other across a spectrum of challenges — The Motley Fool brings various people together through smaller, sure-to-be-talked about one-off experiences.
“We shy away from cookie-cutter collaborative activities,” says Todd Etter, The Motley Fool's Chief Collaboration Officer. “For instance, we created a mini-golf course day in which teams created a hole for the course that the entire company had to play through."
“We’ve also hosted a petting zoo where people could hang out with various animals for an hour. We’ve learned that when people experience something new, it helps to energise them, and encourages them to talk about innovative and exciting solutions versus falling back into the routine of ‘this has worked in the past so let’s try it again’. The little things a company does can truly produce exciting gains — simply by exposing people and teams to new modes of thinking.”
Feedback is also essential to a company’s culture, as it introduces and tests new collaborative techniques and tactics. This approach is best personified by how they use their office furniture.
As Melissa Malinowski, Office Culture Director at The Motley Fool, notes, “In 2011, we moved our entire organisation into one building and were looking for feedback on how to organise the floors. The most feedback we received was from our tech team, and the realisation we had was that because technology is always changing, we needed to account for the same flexibility in their workspace.”
“Because of the physical flexibility of the space, the tech team now has complete fluidity. Whereas it used to take us an entire month to reconfigure the floor plan, it now only takes 90 minutes to move 80 people. New teams can form quickly and easily and arrange themselves in whatever formation they want, or even make a slight adjustment to their space so that they can simply hear each other better. But because we have the freedom to mix-and-match teams nearly at will, we can test different approaches to solving our business challenges without completely halting our day-to-day operations because of logistical concerns. And we can thank our tech team for helping come up with the solution vs. traditional ‘top-down’ thinking.”
While some companies might view these innovative approaches to collaboration as precious and proprietary, The Motley Fool believes that collaboration findings should be shared externally as well.
“We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere, and if an outside organisation has developed a novel solution, why not talk to them about it?” said Melissa Malinowski.
“We actively seek out relationships with other companies for this purpose and even have a position dedicated to facilitating these external partnerships.”
“After all, if you’re only listening to yourself, you’re missing out on a much more interesting conversation.”
The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company that provides financial solutions for investors through various stock, investing, and personal finance products. In addition, they’ve been heralded as one of the U.S.’s best places to work through a collaborative environment that brings all manners of expertise together.