Why it’s important

Teams need to collaborate across government to better tackle complex challenges. Working together transforms the way you can solve problems for your users. 

Set up processes to enable collaboration to: 

  • learn from others 
  • encourage diversity  
  • create efficiencies in how you work 
  • find innovative solutions to complex problems. 

Know who’s involved

Before you began your project, you would have set up a multidisciplinary team. Consider who else you’ll need to collaborate with such as: 

  • subject matter experts 
  • other teams across government 
  • potential users and customers  
  • industry groups or suppliers 
  • anyone affected by your product or service. 

Get leaders on board

Leadership support is a key enabler for collaboration.  

Before you mobilise your team, schedule time with your senior leaders. Discuss: 

  • your business and agency strategic priorities 
  • how the project will help deliver on those priorities 
  • governance, resources and stakeholder commitment.  

They can help you remove any barriers to resourcing or technology constraints.  

Bring your leaders along on the journey once you begin your project. Have regular one-on-one meetings and invite them to your showcases. They can help to raise awareness of your project with executives across government. They can also help to ensure your project’s success.  

Agree on purpose and set expectations

When collaborating with other teams, it’s critical you agree on a shared purpose or vision of success. Everyone should know the role they play in the shared outcomes you want to achieve.   

Everyone in a collaborating team will have their own experience, expectations and needs. Recognise these differences. Find ways to build trust as a team so you can create a safe working environment.  

Hold a kick-off workshop. Invite everyone to define project goals and set expectations. At the workshop discuss and agree on: 

  • roles and responsibilities 
  • what success looks like and how you’ll measure it 
  • time frames for phases of work 
  • ways of working/team practices. 

Develop a common language

Use a common language about your project to the team and others. This helps you tell your story and reduce confusion.  

You will need to agree on how you define industry terms or jargon. 

Create artefacts like user stories or user personas. Use them to have a common understanding around your users and their pain points.  

Create a shared space

Often in multidisciplinary teams, people aren’t always located in the same place. Find ways to co-locate with your team on a regular basis so that you can:  

  • resolve issues on the spot 
  • get questions answered  
  • build and gain trust  
  • synchronise work 
  • foster knowledge sharing. 

If regular co-location is a challenge, meet at least once in the same place. Discuss the resources and tools you’ll use to communicate, coordinate tasks and transfer knowledge. 

Using tools

Decide on the technical tools, systems and online-conferencing platforms you will use.   

Adopt any standard or preferred cross-government collaboration tools.  

Connect with other digital creators in the NSW Design Community. Find out what works well for their teams.  

Set team practices

Team practices or rituals are your ways of working. They should enable each team member to be take part in decision making and goal setting. They will feel their contribution is significant and will perform better. 

Set an agile cadence for your team to have:  

  • planning sessions 
  • stand ups 
  • showcases 
  • demonstrations 
  • team meetings.  

Encourage a collaborative culture

Instill a ‘can-do’ attitude in your team to motivate them to reach the goals you have all agreed on. Do this by building a safe, non-judgmental environment. Encourage them to question the status quo. Ask team members their thoughts, reasoning and ideas on a regular basis.  

Make use of team members’ strengths and skills. Find out what they like doing and what they’re good at. Share this information so people know who to go to and for what. It sets the whole team up for success when you assign people tasks that play to their strengths. 

Recognise, reward and celebrate collaborative behavior. Take time to reflect on how it all came together. Share videos, newsletters, seminars or stories that reflect the collective effort. 

Share achievements and failures with the whole team. Take time to reflect on how well the team is collaborating and what you could improve. 

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