What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix - InformationWeek
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Jacob Morgan
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What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix

Your collaboration vision must be grounded in real problems your business needs to solve.

Connecting Colleagues And Information Across Boundaries

Employees are the most valuable asset that any organization possesses, and right now those employees don't have the ability to stay connected with their peers and with information they need to get their work done. Most employees work in silos and never communicate or collaborate with people outside of their department. We also see employees having to email files to themselves just to make sure that they can keep working on them when they get home or switch locations. Employees today are only partially connected to information and their peers. It's sort of like having horrible Wi-Fi service that allows you to get bits and pieces of information--not effective and very annoying.

Other Common Collaboration Problems

-- Stagnant innovation.

-- Poor employee engagement.

-- Inability to effectively share and transfer knowledge. When employees retire or quit, they take their information with them right out of the company.

-- Difficulty aligning departments and the organization as a whole.

-- Inability to leverage collective intelligence to make decisions.

-- Poor overall employee productivity.

There are many other issues that organizations are faced with, but these seem to be the most common and frequent.

Once you understand what your business problems are, you can derive the use cases for collaboration and the features you need a collaboration platform to have. This will also help you understand how you should be measuring and evaluating success. Often organizations deploy solutions without really understanding why. As a result, they are unable to tell how effective their efforts are.

You'd look pretty silly walking around your house with a hammer, searching for things to bash in. You'd look just as silly deploying a tool and then trying to a find a problem for it to solve.

[ Make room for innovation: What's Your Unadoption Strategy For Enterprise 2.0? ]

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/27/2012 | 7:00:58 PM
re: What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix
An article totally to my heart! Companies tend to haphazardly implement technology. They need to be clearly aware of what they seek from a technology, and keep comparing actual results with expectations.
Richard Rashty
Richard Rashty,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2012 | 2:00:28 PM
re: What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix
@jacobm, I agree with your Post. Over the maturity cycle of Collaboration and Social Business Technologies, I have noticed until very recently a mindset of ignoring the inherent complexity present in these technologies. There are 2 specific dimensions I see as the crux of the problems impacting organizations that started on the journey to becoming a Social Business and more collaborative.

1) Using Social Technologies are NOT SIMPLE. It requires much more tacit effort to engage and collaborate. Take email for example. We heard how Social Technologies will replace email. I say NOT for a long time, maybe never!

Email is SIMPLE, Email is EASY, Email is PREDICTABLE..

2) The benefits of this enhanced Collaboration, Co-creation, and driving business value has almost totally focused on the Organization's benefits. This is a CORE mistake from the technology vendors. The Focus MUST be on "The Me". How does these emergent technologies help "ME" do my job, solve MY problems, improve MY personal brand?

Today, we see these Collaboration/Social Business Vendors now shifting on both these dimensions in merging existing collaboration processes into Social Technologies to help "Me" learn a new way to work, and Ease My Pain.

I have a blog post on this specific point

Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 2:03:21 AM
re: What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix
@jacobm: Some good points, but one more suggestion: it is completely unnecessary for employees to e-mail files to themselves to make these available at home or elsewhere. I use Windows Live Mesh, which holds the documents folders on my office desktop and personal laptop in synchrony (in near-real-time), so when I use my laptop at home it automatically gets all the previous updates that I need from my office machine (and vice versa). Similarly, I spend about $100 a year on a remote web-enabled shell account on which I have set up a personal CVS repository to store files, which I can access from home or work, and potentially from anywhere if needed. For certain projects this is invaluable and I can retrieve earlier versions of documents easily. I wish companies would make such resources available to all, and that their use would become part of corporate work practices. This would cost very little and would yet save lots of time and increase productivity.
Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/3/2012 | 11:24:41 PM
re: What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix
I think you bring up a really important point regarding the ease of use of email--or, if it isn't inherently easy to use, we are so experienced with it that it seems easy. And I also agree that social networking technology can be difficult to use, and I would add that it can be intimidating for some users. Email rightly or wrongly has become demonized, but I wonder whether we shouldn't be thinking harder about how to integrate email conventions--at least to some extent--into social networking platforms. That would perhaps bridge the gap for reluctant users.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Andrew Staples
Andrew Staples,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/10/2012 | 6:15:47 PM
re: What Collaboration Can And Can't Fix
Sounds like a lot organizations are experiencing premature collaboration. There's a site for this issue: www.prematurecollaboration.com

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