Delivering outstanding performance requires collaborative team efforts, whether that team is inside one organization or a consortium of independent members. When work products are non-repetitive, a diversity of knowledge and experience is especially valuable. Collaborators with multiple disciplines create more diverse ideas than those of a single discipline, and are more likely to develop those ideas into effective work products. Teams can also include those stakeholders whom the organization serves. Including them in the collaborative process may not only increase stakeholder satisfaction, but also benefit the ultimate work product.
Cross-disciplinary collaboration has its challenges. In the first phase of problem solving, when increasing ideas and perspectives improve the chances of finding the best solution, individuals may find it difficult to suspend judgment and contribute with an open mind. In the second phase, when the group must distill those many ideas into a collective point of view, the task is to create a mental model that is shared by all participants. What are the tools that help cross-disciplinary collaborators succeed? A virtual space to share divergent ideas, and a physical collaboration lab for modeling solutions, are among the most valuable.