THE BLOG

A Chorus Is Better Than a Solo

15/05/2013 13:02 BST | Updated 14/07/2013 10:12 BST

Whether you're a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest or not, it's hard to downplay the strength of a competition that has held the attention of a continent for nearly 60 years. More than 1,000 songs have been entered in the battle to date and every year an estimated 125 million people from across Europe and beyond tune in to watch as 26 countries fight it out to be named the winner. The popularity of the contest is undeniable.

But how does the contest capture our attention each year and how has it remained such a success for so long? I think it's due to the sense of patriotic pride that lies within all of us, but added to this, it's a chance to work together and collaborate. We not only rally together as a country to support our act, but we're also great at getting behind our neighbouring countries too.

In fact, we conducted some data analysis around previous Eurovision Song Contests and found what many suspected; participating countries often work together to vote for their neighbours. Take the UK for example. The British public still have a tendency to vote for their closest neighbouring countries and, over the years, have given the most points to Ireland, France, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.

And the Scandinavian countries seemingly work together each year. In fact, the biggest fans of this year's hosts are Norway, Denmark and Finland, who have respectively awarded the country with the most points over past competitions. Further to this, Russia gets a lot of support from its neighbouring countries - Estonia, Latvia, Belarus and the Ukraine have awarded the country the most points since it joined the contest in 1994. And this backing doesn't go unreciprocated. The Russian audience itself favours the Ukraine above all other countries, awarding it an average of ten points each year.

So, how can this behaviour be transferred to the workplace? I'd like to argue that it's the sense of collaboration behind the Eurovision Song Contest that makes it such a success, whether which countries have voted for our own, or simply because we like to find out which combinations of collaboration have helped to create the winning song.

In my opinion, there's still not enough evidence of collaboration in the workplace. Unlike countries in Eurovision, businesses are still struggling to hone their skills when it comes to working together, in spite of the fact that collaboration has been proven to increase employee productivity, with some companies seeing project cycle times reduced by as much as 30%.

And yet, companies seem loath to fine tune their business and make the change towards a more open and collaborative culture. The way they make this change is all about the systems and the tools they use. If they can give all employees access to the right information, then suddenly they have empowered them to find their own insights and work together on how to bring their ideas to fruition. They must be given the tools to assess the state of affairs and relate it to their area of the business, make their decisions based on the facts as appropriate to their level in the organisation, rather than on feeling, and communicate the findings to senior management. Research has shown that participative decision-making can lead to more successful companies, so getting everyone singing from the same hymn sheet like the countries in Eurovision seem to might not be a bad idea after all.

With this in mind, it'll be interesting to see how the different countries collaborate and vote this year. If you'd like to make your own predictions, then do some investigating here. May douze points be awarded to those who can work together in harmony.