Chris J Powell

The Double Edged Sword of Collaboration

If you look to the term Collaboration within an Enterprise IT shop you will find that there is as many definitions as there are answers to the question “What is Cloud Computing”.  There are good, bad and indifferent aspects of Collaboration but in everything that I have read, experienced and been a part of…it is a double edged sword.

 

As a knowledge worker I scream for more interconnection and ability to share resources, mind share and best practices and for the most part, this goes on deaf ears.  There are times when knowing what the “next big thing” coming from our IT Department is key and other time when most of us could just care less.  But in many other ways the Collaboration between departments can be an enormous benefit.  Imagine if you will a Sales Team that has a deep understanding of the needs of Research and Development, the front line people who are interacting with clients and prospects EVERYDAY having a direct feedback method to the Engineers and Product Developers who are building the next generation of Widget…no longer is there that awkward trial or beta phase but a direct to market strategy!

 

There are thousands of products, services and options for building a Collaboration Strategy and that collaboration can be with your clients, within a single department or across the entire company.  Whether you are building a Strategy from the ground up or are deeply entrenched with tools like SharePoint, Alfresco, TikiWiki and others or just trying to wrap your head around the glorious world of connecting 8 Billion Dots it is time to get things right and that is no easy task for even a simple internal Collaboration effort.  The moving parts that go into an external strategy are mind boggling.

 

When you look at the definition of Collaboration though…you can see that there are two distinct meanings:

 

col·lab·o·rate  verb kə-ˈla-bə-ˌrāt

intransitive verb
1: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
2: to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force
Much has been talked about, built around and discussed about the newest phase of collaboration…something that I am organically doing right here and right now…the world of Social Collaboration.  In the past 10 years the world of Social Media has turned how we interact with each other.  Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and more give us a 360 degree view of our colleagues, friends and clients (or vendors)…in 140 characters or less we can share our deepest thoughts or silly rants on Twitter…every image we snap with our camera phone or video we take can be instantly shared with the world on Flickr and YouTube.
Is there a benefit from the always on, always connected life…ABSOLUTELY but it is a drain the constant stream of messages, comments, likes, retweets and mentions can be exhausting…but if done right so rewarding.
These distractions in the enterprise however…that is a different story.  For example my work has a shutdown of almost all social media outlets except at specific times during the day…which is completely fair…I don’t want to be on Facebook while working but as with many companies there is a lack of cohesion when it comes to how we leverage collaboration inside the company and externally with our clients.
I can actually relate a story that a client told me the other day when his CEO was telling him there would be no way he would ever use the Office Communicator and its “Busy / Available option” that was part of their recent upgrade to Unified Communications…it would be a distraction and a waste of his time.  One week later he came back to my client crying foul as his Personal Assistant was on vacation and so his gatekeeper was gone.  After receiving dozens of phone calls from both Senior Executives and other PA’s about his availability he was asking for the “Communicator Thingy” to be installed.
In the Infamous words of Yoda…Do or not Do…there is no Try!
Chris J Powell

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