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February 16, 2012

Is collaboration the next frontier?

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In my opinion, a challenge facing small and large businesses alike is the need to improve collaboration. I hear the question everywhere; "How do I get my team and my company to use collaboration software better?"

If you ask this question, at least, you must have some collaboration software!

In reality, successul adoption of collaboration software, starts with the company culture and the ability of the employees to get on the same page; but it is either enhanced or limited by the collaboration software of choice.

Today, there is an unprecedented intercept between internal (Outlook/Sharpoint; Notes; SaleForce.com) and external (Facebook; Linkedin; MySpace) collaboration platforms.

Social Media style homepages and task feeds in private social communities are competing with groupware, which now runs the spectrum from hosted, to ASP and cloud based.

Every company's culture has already adjusted to one or more of these incomplete environments.

Since few companies are getting the return they expected from existing collaboration tools, they are less likely too venture into this "new Frontier", where internal sites look like Facbook pages and work is distrubuted using friendly posts and followups.

Regardless of where you are on the software map, Here are a few hints that work in every environment:

  1. Publish a roadmap so everyone interested can know when and how existing collaboration environments will evolve
  2. Get everyone excited about the benefits of collaboration behavior.
  3. Start using the existing environment better
    • Appoint mentors/ facilitators to lead by example.
    • Allow private one to one spaces which are not monitored by the company
    • Get high level managers / directors to lead the way

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I'd like to hear your opinion about the collaboration challenge.

How would you suggest bringing about behavioral change when it comes to sharing and actively participating in discussions?

How much can be taught?

Where does technology limit or enhance the process of changing from passive to active collaboration?

Are there any fairness or ethical considerations?