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We must take change by the hand or rest assuredly, change will take us by the throat.Winston Churchill

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Collaborate… but not too much!

Collaborate… but not too much!

In today’s working environment that favors teamwork, concentrating has become a challenge. It is nonetheless a factor of productivity and well-being. How can you give everyone the possibility to secure periods of real concentration?

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The virtues of collaboration and teamwork no longer need justification. According to a recent opinion poll, 91% of senior managers consider that teams are the key to success. Countless works have been written on the importance of collaborating at all levels: within teams, between departments, with suppliers, clients, etc. And rightly so: the greatest successes can rarely be attributed to a single person.

But beware of excess, experts warn. Collaborative work has a cost. It notably fragments the working day. Agendas structured around numerous meetings designed to coordinate and to share information leave little space for focused periods of time that enable real concentration. The permanent exchanges between co-workers—be it via email, telephone, Skype, SMS, on collaborative platforms or online forums—can rapidly monopolize attention at the expense of progress on fundamental matters. A study estimates that employees are solicited on average every three minutes, taking into account electronic messages. When interrupted during an in-depth thinking process, you will need on average 20 minutes to fully focus again!

Furthermore, teamwork does not necessarily improve performance. For example, it is commonly believed that the best way to generate creative ideas is to hold a group brainstorming session. Several studies, however, have demonstrated that team members are more creative when they enjoy long focused periods of time to think through the issues alone. Similarly, solitary work sessions often enable greater productivity and work progress. Peace and quiet and protection from the sensation that you can be interrupted at any moment will enable you to better memorize and be more reliable in your work, since the brain does not need to simultaneously manage external disturbances.

Collaboration is essential; but excess—as in anything—can be harmful. Many organizations would gain in effectiveness and performance by adapting their practices.

Synopsis n.249a


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