Where Does the Money Come from to Make This Happen?
One of the reasons budget becomes a factor in deciding not to invest in emergent collaboration technologies and strategies is that budget sometimes means "fear." In other words, the budget isn't the real reason executives don't invest in this; fear is. If your organization wants to invest in collaboration and believes in the value of connecting and engaging employees, budget should not be a problem. Penn State University cut one of its annual employee events and used that money to fund its collaboration project. Why did it do this? Because the employee event was large enough to accommodate only a small sample of the employee population; although it was an annual event, not every employee could attend. The reasoning became, why spend money every year on engaging some of our employees physically when we can engage all of them virtually? Other organizations have an emergent solution, an innovation, or a special projects budget that they pull from. Some companies rely on low-cost alternatives such as wikis or blogs. Still other organizations pool budgets from various departments such as human resources (HR), IT, and internal communications to make this a reality. I've also seen organizations shift their existing intranet budgets to emergent collaboration platform budgets. This doesn't have to be a hard and tedious process. Smart organizations will figure out a way to make this happen. I recently spoke with a team at one of the world's largest companies that told me, "How could we not invest in this?"
Can you imagine working at your company without a phone system, the Internet, or a computer? Like all these things, collaboration is not an option to build and sustain a successful organization; it should be a requirement.
I don't want to start talking numbers here because it's all relative. I know of small companies that have spent around $150,000 annually for emergent collaboration initiatives, and I know of large organizations that have spent less than that. The point is that there are options.
In developing these teams, it is also common to find that some employees are more involved than others. David Straus developed a concept called "rings of involvement" that applies to how involved relevant stakeholders are in collaboration. That concept inspired the chart shown below.
Degrees of involvement in emergent collaboration.
In looking at how emergent collaboration platforms and strategies get implemented in an organization, it's helpful to think of several degrees of involvement, as shown in the figure.
This is the core team that essentially works on rolling things out. Implementers are the day-to-day employees who do everything from selecting the vendors to developing adoption strategies. The implementers are usually full-time employees devoted 100% to making sure the effort is successful. They can be thought of as the construction workers responsible for building the organization's emergent collaborative house.
This is an extension of the core team but is not as involved. The extended team might work on a subset of the core project such as trying to figure who the evangelists within the organization might be or trying to predict certain risks. Ultimately, the extended team isn't a part of the big-picture strategic initiative but assists the implementers in making sure the big picture fits together. The extended team is akin to a right-hand man. The enablers effectively help make the implementers' job possible.
The strategists work closely with the implementers and the extended team as they help develop the big picture. The strategists can be thought of as the architects who design the blueprints for the implementers and the extended team. Often there is crossover from the implementers and the extended team to the strategist role. All these categories are permeable. Strategists may not do the actual implementation.
These employees attend meetings and receive all the information they need to provide feedback and/or insight to assist in the project. Feedback providers don't actually have a hand in the roll-out or strategic decision making but contribute ideas, recommendations, and insights when and where needed. These employees are great for bouncing ideas off of.