Wednesday 3 August 2005

Building Vibrant Human Networks

Its been a while since a Harvard Business Review article has jumped out at me, but with a title like Collaboration Rules I couldn't really go past it without taking a look. The authors use the examples of open source and Toyota to demonstrate two examples of effective collaboration that breaks through organisational barriers. You might recall one of the authors, Phillip Evans, also co-authored Blow to Bits.

The long and short of the article is that they provide 5 principles for high-performance collaboration:

  • Deploy pervasive collaborative technology;
  • Keep work visible;
  • Build communities of trust;
  • Think modularly; and
  • Encourage teaming.
In particular about the use of technology they say:

"Keep it simple and open: 'small pieces, loosely joined' in Cluetrain Manifesto coauthor David Weinberger’s felicitous phrase. Tools should work together through common standards and be as compatible as possible with those of the rest of the world. Think options not integration, adaptability not static efficiency."

They conclude that "perhaps the effectiveness of these collaborations suggests the ultimate emergence of something altogether new. Not markets. Not hierarchies. But a powerful combination of both—and a signature of the networked society."

BTW You can read an extract from this HBR article on the HBS Working Knowledge newsletter Website, although to be honest its a little confusing to read in isolation. However, for the moment it appears that you can access the full article on the HBR site.

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