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Delivering on the promise of Digital Collaboration

Unlocking the collaborative power of your organisation



Rapid technological change and digital disruption are challenging traditional operating models and creating opportunities for organisations to establish more effective ways of working. Like private organisations, government and not-for-profit organisations are now continuously confronted with radically shifting contexts for their workforces, workplaces, as well as the world of work.

These shifting contexts are occurring at a time of large scale reforms, which are placing greater demands on the social sector to do more with less. In this world of digital disruption and social policy reform, we believe that both government and not-for-profit organisations must establish new ways of working, centred on digital collaboration, if they are to effectively address Australia’s most complex social challenges.

Digital collaboration uses technology to help unlock the capacity and knowledge of every employee in the organisation in order to improve productivity, stimulate innovation and enhance agility. Tools such as Workplace, Slack, and Google G-suite and solutions from companies such as Basecamp, Trello and Asana provide engaging platforms for knowledge sharing, goal alignment and task management to support collaborative team-centric work. When employees collaborate our research suggests that they work 15% faster, 73% do better work; 60% are more innovative; and 56% feel more satisfied. We believe that in a world of increasing demand for social services, and rapidly changing funding landscapes, digital collaboration will be an essential ingredient in enabling the social sector to do more for citizens, while using less resources. However, establishing digital collaboration as an effective organisational way of working is not simple. And in today’s rapidly changing environment a failure to do so may result in an inability to adequately fulfil organisational mission, and ultimately, a loss of organisational relevance.

Deloitte’s recent global study into the organisational impact of digital disruption provides key insights to help organisations achieve the anticipated benefits of digital collaboration. Of the ten trends/ initiatives being implemented globally by successful organisations, we believe three initiatives will specifically help embed digital collaboration, and positively impact the performance of organisations. These include:

  • Creating empowered networks
  • Repositioning leadership
  • Leveraging inclusion

Based on Deloitte’s study findings, successful organisations are repositioning themselves to operate as empowered networks, co-ordinated through culture, information systems, and talent mobility. These organisations are experiencing rapid improvements in the speed to act, agility and adaptability. To achieve these outcomes, organisations are undertaking the following key changes:

  • Networks of Teams. Organisations are adopting more flexible, team centric models. They are creating networks of multidisciplinary teams tasked with achieving specific work challenges. The teams form, perform, disband and reform around new challenges.
  • Build accountability. Successful organisations are merging collaboration with accountability by setting clear goals and metrics for both individuals and teams and then sharing these across the organisation to increase ownership and transparency.
  • Change the nature of work. Within these teams, work is becoming less about functional responsibilities and more about specific projects. Teams are increasingly focussed on the work needed to address customer, product and service challenges.

If the way we organise and manage work needs to change, so does how we lead people to do the work of the future. Our research, based on studies done in collaboration with MIT, shows a clear shift will be required in leadership capabilities. Traditional leadership models where leaders lead organisations and functions are being replaced by models where leaders lead projects, teams, and networks of teams. Our research found that successful leaders need to:

  • Think differently. Leaders need to possess mindsets that enable agility, creativity, and the ability to lead networks of teams operating in complex, uncertain environments. They need to think divergently and harness diversity of thought
  • Act differently. Instead of knowing solutions and bringing experience, leaders will need to innovate, collaborate, and use teams (even crowd-sourcing) to solve challenges
  • React differently. Leaders will need to be able to tolerate ambiguity, show resilience, confidently lead change, and encourage greater inclusion across teams

As leading organisations shift to operating as a network of teams, they are also seeking to harness the power of diversity and inclusion. Research suggests that assembling diverse perspectives and building inclusive communities within organisations delivers five times greater agility, 83% more innovation, 42% more collaboration, and 31% better client service To leverage the benefits that greater inclusion offers successful organisations are addressing the following:

  • Inclusive Leadership. Identify and develop leaders that demonstrate the following signature traits; commitment, courage, cognizance of bias, cultural intelligence, and collaboration. They are also making diversity and inclusion the responsibility of all leaders, rather than it just being the responsibility of the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)
  • Diversity of Thought. Recognising that harnessing diversity of thought brings both richness and rigour to collaborative thinking. A team of people with similar backgrounds and styles on a collaborative platform will struggle to be innovative.



In a world of increasing demand and diminishing resource both government and not-for-profit organisations need to establish news ways of working that are centred on digital collaboration if they are effectively tackle Australia’s most complex social challenges. To do this successfully our research suggests that organisations need to create empowered networks of teams, reposition their leadership to think, act and react differently and better harness the power of diversity and inclusion.

Deloitte’s Social Impact Consulting practice brings together Australia’s leaders in human capital solutions to help address these complex workforce challenges and deliver better outcomes within the social sector. If you are interested in learning more about how we can support you in unlocking the collaborative power of your organisation, please contact Tharani Jegatheeswaran (Partner – Social Impact Consulting) or Phillip Mottram (Principal – Social Impact Consulting).