Sunday, 20 January 2008

Are you ready for collaboration (again)?

I think Shawn from Anecdote is right, "collaboration" is becoming fashionable again. During 2007 I've noticed quite a few posts that touch on collaboration and conversations going on about collaboration specifically - including Microsoft enters the furniture market, Collaboration challenges and success factors, Thinking, thinking about collaboration, The Shifting Sands of Collaboration, More chatter about collaboration and Still talking about collaboration. Phew!

Anyway, I agree with Shawn's conclusion about the drivers for its resurgence:

"Collaboration is important more than ever because of the nature of the world we live in. The problem, however, is that we not taught collaboration in organisations. It happens through necessity and success is mostly by chance and experience. Organisations wishing to develop a collaboration capability more systematically will need to thinking clearly about the process of collaboration and how they can support that process."

I also agree with Shawn's emphasis on the people side of collaboration; even while focused on the tech in the past I've talked the about the human capability of an organisation to collaborate using technology as being a source of competitive advantage, but to be honest felt at the time this message feel on deaf ears. Perhaps, now the time is right?

This is particularly interesting when we consider comments like this, from Jeff Palfini:

"implement these new, time-saving technologies, but do so at your own peril, because unless you can get consensus on how best to work in each mode of collaboration, you could end up with an overstimulated, underachieving workforce."

Perhaps, not only are we finally valuing (technology enabled) collaboration but we are also finally learning that its a balance between people AND technology? I actually have a list of questions I wrote back than you might like to consider to check your readiness for collaborating with technology:

  1. Do your people know how to collaborate?
  2. Does your organisation under the value, benefits and risks of collaborating on-line with you partners and clients?
  3. Are your IT people ready for user-driven development of a Web-based collaboration tool?
  4. Do you have the right processes in place to both diffuse a collaborative capability as well the processes that would form your collaborative infrastructure?
  5. Have you implemented the appropriate IT systems to help minimise the risks your organisation is exposed to from on-line collaboration with your partners and customers?
  6. Is your technology infrastructure adequate prepared to support a Web-based collaboration tool?
  7. Do protocols exist for testing the on-line workspace before collaboration begins?
  8. What data, information and knowledge do you intend to share on-line?
  9. Are guidelines available for knowledge managers and end-users to learn about the leading and recommended approaches to on-line collaboration?

Bearing in mind I wrote these in 2004, I think most of these questions are still very applicable. So, how does your organisation stand up against these readiness questions?

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