Notes on "Collaboration Tools: Where Do They Fit?" (James Robertson)

James Robertson from Step Two is talking about collaboration tools, and how to make them successful in the organization. James said that without the right upfront planning, collaboration tools usage will fail.

Two Tests for Collaboration
One approach to collaboration:
– ensure that there is a clear purpose
– a common sense of community is essential. The best way is to support an existing face-to-face community. You can build community for online groups, but it is more difficult.

Some examples of things that work:
– staff buy and swap area
– designing the new office space
– project collaboration

Asking these two questions gives us a quick way of pre-evaluating the likelihood of success.

A Model for Collaboration
James showed the Step Two three levels model.
– at the top … corporate initiatives, eg, corporate intranet, document management systems
– at the bottom … individual things (“it’s a mess”), eg, email, documents on the desktop
– at the mid-level … team, division and unit … where most of the value is created. James thinks that this area has been ignored a lot of the time, and is the reason for the huge explosion in recent collaborative work.
– … (a) there is an inwards facing need … the things that a group needs to do its work.
– … (b) there is an outwards facing need too … for inwards facing thing

James says that there are two different technology solutions to meet these … the outwards focus is publishing, the inwards one is collaboration. James says that there are many diverse needs at the collaboration level, and one-size-fits-all does not apply. Need to take a portfolio approach, and should target the different tools to different requirements.

There are links between the two levels … promoting items out of collaboration to publishing, and linking from publishing back down to collaboration.

Managing Collaboration
Need to identify an owner for collaboration … to put some shape around them, to help people being successful.

Need to develop policies, governance and guidance:
– at a glance view of the whole tool set
– guidelines for selecting an appropriate tool
– simple policies on when to use collaboration tools, ownership and usage practices
– ‘Quick Start’ guides for each tool set
– Automated usage stats
– … and more.

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