Since my husband was a Marine Corps Officer, we use a lot of military metaphors in our household. As a married couple, we often talk about what it means to be partners in the “foxhole.” Do we have each other’s back? Is one person on “watch” or taking the lead, more than the other?

In new product development, whether it’s the very early stages of idea generation or the later stages of testing, innovation is a collaborative process. Breakthrough ideas and execution necessitate the involvement of people with different expertise and experiences working together. So how do you foster an environment conducive to active participation and engagement?

As it turns out, the same key to effective collaboration in the workplace, are those that work for our discussions about being a good mate in the foxhole. Six tips for effective collaboration include:

1. Communicate expectations
2. Set goals/a clear direction for where you want to go
3. Allow for creativity or free thinking (in a non-judgmental environment). Encourage
team members to look at what is possible (to have a “can do” vs. a “can’t do” attitude)
4. Build cohesion. Include every person on the team in large decisions where possible
5. Get to truly know one another and acknowledge each other’s contributions
6. Leverage team member strengths

What techniques have you found to be helpful for successful collaboration?