Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Collaboration does not happen with deploying a tool

I believe that we gain more by sharing more.  By actively sharing insights and perspectives we can collectively create greater values than sum of its parts.  Collaboration is not a zero sum game.  It is one of the reasons why I decided to update my blog every day.

More than ever we need people who can collaborate with each other.  Collaboration takes experience and skills.  It's not a process that rewards single star player.  In order for collaboration to work smoothly, participants must have experiences working with others and putting collective goals ahead of individual agenda.  To operate effectively in that environment it takes skills to navigate around politics and foster constructive communications.

Often it is enough to have a couple of experienced individuals out of team of several to make the collaboration work effectively.  The leader must be the person who believes in the collaborative process and has experiences managing the collaborative discussion.  Without the committed and experienced leader I've seen many collaboration fizzling out without synthesizing a new idea and how-to steps.  Collaboration is an obstacle course where individual team member can either become hindrance or aid.  It's the lead and experienced team member's job to spot these signs early on and navigate around them.

Enterprise collaboration system works the similar way.  It helps the collaboration to take place asynchronously across different timezones.  But it does not guarantee effective collaboration.  It is just a tool.  Just like any other tool, it can be misused and abused.  In fact it is often more difficult to carry out effective collaboration on enterprise collaboration tool because team members don't get the non-verbal cues from participants.

The key to remember when deploying enterprise collaboration tool is to elect the committed and experienced leaders who can guide the interactions to be constructive and focused.  Deploying a collaboration tool is much more than just picking out a platform.  It needs to extend to understanding the tactical and strategic values of sharing information and how to guide the participants to create the best outcome when collaborating.

That is why many early adopters of enterprise collaboration tool (also known as enterprise social software) talk about educating users on how to use the collaboration tool and assigning community manager who can ensure that collaboration process works as intended.

Otherwise collaboration tool may end up being virtual water cooler where people talk about what they had for breakfast.

Don't let your enterprise collaboration tool turn into chit-chat network.
You will need someone to lead, educate and manage.

No comments:

Post a Comment