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Concerned About Collaboration? Here’s what’s possible.

‘I survived another meeting that should have been an email!' Does that ring true for you? If so, take inspiration from one leader who was inspired to tackle ways of working head on. The results achieved were surprising – 16% in Just 12 Weeks!

What was the problem or opportunity?

Known for his love of coffee, the manager had two mugs on his desk. The first mug proclaimed in bold letters, ‘I survived another meeting that should have been an email’. It was evidence of mounting frustration with the time consumed by meetings and other forms of internal collaboration.

The data revealed that leaders were spending up to 65% of their time on internal collaboration, incl. meetings and workshops, emails and IMs etc. As a result, they had little focused or uninterrupted time to get their work done, mainly to attend to key priorities.

This ‘internal collaboration overload' had been compounded by the increased pressure on short-term performance, a proliferation of projects and priorities and scarce resources. Also, hybrid working.

What was the solution?

The second mug on the manager’s desk revealed the solution. It was an ever-present reminder of the requirements of effective collaboration.

This mug had a visual of the 9Rs that define ways of working for a project or team. These include having the Right People in the Right Roles doing the Right Work, and so on. 

A particular Importance to the team was the right roles the right resources, as well as the right work and the right results.  All of these factors have been rated in the low 60s by the team and its internal stakeholders (based on Pitstop AnalyticsTM data).

What were the steps involved?

Creating front-of-mind awareness of the 9Rs was an important first step. This began with a review of the team's data.

The team adopted the 9Rs checklist to plan and review collaborative (and individual) work.  That includes every time the team works together on a project, has a meeting or a workshop. 

The team tracks the 9Rs using an app, providing evidence of progress. Posters and mugs of the 9Rs were used to remind people.

Short workshops were offered to provide tools and techniques to address any of the 9Rs important to the team.  For example, to clarify roles and responsibilities, clarify the right results, make more time for focused work, etc.

A particular focus for the team was the amount of time is spent on low-value work. That is work that should be delegated, automated, delayed or scrapped.

Also of primary importance was a need for more clarity and alignment regarding the right results with a proliferation of priorities competing for time and attention. This resulted in the team needing help managing its key stakeholders and a culture where everything was seen as urgent.

The team also attended to the ambiguity regarding roles within the team. This sometimes resulted in gaps and overlaps, even occasional role conflict.

What was the goal?

A goal was set to improve ways of working by up to 20% over a period of 12 weeks

‘As a team, we have little control over the market, the targets set, or the organization’s strategy,’ said the leader. ‘What we can control, however (and it is no small thing) is how we work together as a team. How we organize our work, collaborate and interact – these matters not just in terms of productivity and efficiency but bringing out the best in each other and creating a positive and supportive work environment,’ she added.

What benefits were realized?

Executive team boosts ways of working by 16% in just 12 weeks! That was a few % short of the goal set, but something that the team was very proud of. It was the motivation to strive for further improvements.

Improving working methods was estimated to save two-plus hours per week per team member. More than 5% of the working week and time could be better spent doing more meaningful work.

The pressure was reduced by 7%, and vitality improved by 5%. These gains, while marginal, were necessary for a team operating in a high-pressure environment with lots of change and uncertainty.

The quality of interactions went up by 20%, while unwanted interruptions fell by 15%.

Within eight months, the leaders of other departments and functions referred to the team as ‘Super Collaborators’!

Concerned or curious about your team's ways of working? Talk to us.

A lot of people talk about Ways of Working, but what exactly does it mean? More importantly, how to improve it?

Based on extensive data and research we have developed the only operational definition of ways of working, compete a methodology and toolkit to measures, quantify and optimize Ways of Working and interacting within projects and teams. 

Image:for mug sayng ‘…should have been an email' was sourced from

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Would you like to discuss this or another topic with us? Click here. Ray Collis heads up the research & analytics team at Growth Pitstop - an organisation committed to sharing its research for the benefit of all. Running a podcast, a webinar or event? Ask Ray if he is available. You can connect with Ray on Linked in here. Got an idea of a topic you would like us to explore? Contact us here. See our editorial guidelines here.

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