WWPYCBW: Strategy and People (August 7, 2008)

Contents at a Glance
– Matt’s planning a Collaboration Open Space
– How Did We Get Reduced to File Sharing?
– How are you learning to do virtual work?

Matt’s Planning a Collaboration Open Space
Following on from some discussions at Open Publish last week about the people aspects of using collaboration technology, Matt is wondering about running a Collaboration Open Space to look more into the people aspects of collaboration per se.

So I want to run an Open Space event around “collaboration”. Only we probably won’t use that term as such. Suggestions for a better one please. I dunno whether this will be 20 people in a church hall or 1000 people at the exhibition centre. You tell me.

Analysis
Great initiative Matt … looking forward to it happening … and to helping make it happen. Most likely this will take place in Australia, so start saving your airplane dollars now.

How Did We Get Reduced to File Sharing?
Kevin shares his thinking on the adoption of collaboration tools in the enterprise, and wonders why the grand vision of collaboration got reduced to a new way to share files.

The good news was that these groups all tended to focus on the primary issue at hand, which at that time, was ‘can’t find stuff’. This consistent attempt to solve the same problem suggested that there was indeed wisdom in the crowd about what needed to be done, but not in how to do it. Also, the wisdom did not spread as past problems of communication and inabilities to integrate remained, and limited the ability to organize the grass roots effort.

Executions are badly flawed when multiple approaches emerge, and worse, the methods implemented simply mirrored the existing bad practices. Result show a great many sites that contained lots of documents, but with no structure and very little, if any integration. The underlying trap that became apparent was the focus on fixing my problem, rather than a cogent approach to broadly managing, sharing and exchanging valuable business assets.

Analysis
How indeed. One of the key drivers for writing Seamless Teamwork was to outline a way for using SharePoint for more than “merely file sharing”. Will be interesting to see how that pans out. And as I talk about in SharePoint for Business, there needs to be team level agreements about how to use the capabilities of a given tool to improve business work.

How Are You Learning To Do Virtual Work?
Art asks how we are learning to live and work in an increasingly virtual world.

It’s increasingly a virtual world, and everything about communicating, interacting and developing relationships feels a bit different than it used to. While many/most of us are compliant with the changes in communications (telex to fax to e-mail to IM, web conferencing etc.), I wonder how many of us are truly working to become competent at living and working in this world …. The common thread in all of these items is the shift in how we work, lead and learn. Like it or not, the world is becoming more and more virtual everyday, and those of us that are old enough to remember life before fax machines and e-mail will be well-served to quit fighting the trend and start learning how to become competent and comfortable communicating to no-one and everyone at the same time.

He gives some data points that demonstrate the challenges involved, and even gives a bottom line: “The difference between compliance with new technologies and new styles of communicating and competence at leveraging these tools and styles for results is significant. Deriving value from virtual leader/employee relationships or on-line learning is a very different task for all parties involved than it was in the almost bygone era of face-to-face. It’s time to quit fighting the changes and learn how to master the new opportunities to engage. I still struggle to see how these new methods will replicate the richness of face-to-face communication, but that’s my problem to deal with as the world keeps changing. In the meantime, if you are looking for me, don’t call…I’m busy learning how to communicate all over again.

Analysis
Wow, Art’s blog just became essential reading for me. This really gets to the heart of it: the world is changing, what are you — what am I — doing to change with it?

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