One of the best things about working in an office setting is collaboration. While working with other people can be hard or annoying from time to time, it tends to be worth it if there are at least one or two people who can act as sounding boards and brainstorming partners. Some people are able to work solo and most people are able to perform their tasks unassisted if necessary but collaboration with the right people can make your work products better and can help you complete them in a more efficient manner.
There is an unwritten rule in my office that no written work goes anywhere without being read by others in the office. This is partially simply for proofreading – a second set of eyes will always pick up on one mistake or another. But the more important function is to generate new ideas and new ways to look at an issue.
It is very easy to become entrenched in a certain way of thinking or to make certain assumptions that are not evident to everybody. Talking through your ideas with another person is a way to make sure your piece will be understandable and will stand up to criticism. It may seem as if taking this extra step to show and discuss your work with another person will slow down your process but the earlier you invite participation the more efficient you can be. It is far better to take some extra time at the beginning of a project to fully think it through than to have to abandon it near the end because it just doesn’t hold water.
Other people can also act as an important gut-check when trying something new or risky. Telling somebody else what you plan to do or say means hearing it out loud. Something that sounds innocuous in your head may seem less so when you feel the need to couch or tone it down when explaining it to a co-worker.
Finally, your co-workers can be invaluable for developing new ideas. Many of these blog entries are written after a brief conversation with a friend or co-worker. What began as an off-hand complaint about a tyrannical boss or a brilliant new communication plan turns into a new topic to write about that may not have otherwise occurred to me. The capacity to develop ideas is at the heart of workgroup resiliency.
Who has inspired a good idea in your work?