Fostering collaborative leadership in the enterprise

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In enterprises, there are often silos that exist between disparate departments and teams, making it difficult to encourage knowledge sharing or opportunities to work together. These trends also carry into software development processes, where developers and quality assurance professionals have traditionally been sectioned off from each other. However, as more organizations adopt agile approaches, these barriers are forced to come down. While this is easier said than done, in order for agile to be a success, these groups must combine their efforts. For this reason, we'll look at how developers and QA management can foster collaborative leadership in the enterprise.

Leverage all knowledge
Waterfall methods often pushed software testing to the end of a project, leaving little time to give the software the support it required. However, not only are QA members involved with the app throughout the lifecycle, they are also encouraged to collaborate with developers to identify problems, create viable solutions and ensure that similar issues are avoided in the future. This type of knowledge sharing can be critical to producing reliable software with the functionality users require. According to Harvard Business Review, there are a number of companies that are creating a collaborative community, combining the knowledge of diverse specialists to excel in their industry.

"Collaborative communities encourage people to continually apply their unique talents to group projects—and to become motivated by a collective mission, not just personal gain or the intrinsic pleasures of autonomous creativity," Harvard Business Review stated. "By marrying a sense of common purpose to a supportive structure, these organizations are mobilizing knowledge workers' talents and expertise in flexible, highly manageable group-work efforts. The approach fosters not only innovation and agility but also efficiency and scalability."

Agile operations are helping to foster these types of environments, but it's up to leadership to ensure that it's successful. By working closely together, quality assurance teams and developers can boost their capabilities and look to support what they create.

Make collaboration part of the culture
If collaboration is stated as just another initiative, employees aren't likely to be excited to pursue these initiatives. Instead, leaders must integrate collaboration into the flow of work and create a supportive environment for these types of opportunities. Forbes contributor Jacob Morgan noted that rewarding teams for their great performance can encourage better participation and boost overall product quality. This will also help integrate collaboration as a major part of the company culture.

Morgan also stated that tools leveraged by staff members should inherently enable collaboration and fit into their workflow. For example, test management solutions provide a unified platform that is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. This means that even remote workers can participate in team efforts and function seamlessly in development projects. These systems also help prioritize tasks, send notifications if defects are spotted and accurately tracks changes made in real time, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. These types of assets will boost collaborative leadership efforts in the enterprise.

Create shared goals
When bringing two parties together, it's essential to demonstrate that their purposes are the same. Aligning teams under common goals and identifying the people that are responsible for the outcomes can minimize confusion so that teams can move faster, a Cisco white paper noted. Defining these initiatives will establish something that all participants understand, accept and know how to measure progress against. These capabilities will help determine their success and reveal areas where improvements must be made to perform effectively.

"Establishing a common vocabulary for decision-making helps teams to articulate their goals and commit to the approach they will follow to achieve them," Cisco stated. "This kind of transparent decision making results in a more resilient and adaptive organization."

Another benefit of shared goals is that it will help build trust within the teams and help them be more engaged. Wired contributor Nanda Ramanujam noted that collaboration will help give people autonomy and accountability over their work while creating relationships across other departments. Engaged employees are often also more passionate about their work and will better reflect the company's core values, strengthening the overall brand. These advantages will be critical in fostering collaborative leadership across the enterprise and ensuring that everyone is on board.

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