Tom Davenport on "How to Best Use Collaboration IT"

David at Technology Review interviewed Prof. Tom Davenport on how to best use collaboration IT:

What is the most effective way to use collaboration software?

People who work on mapping collaboration and patterns of interaction between people have noticed that less is more. Historically, companies were quite interested in increasing the amount of collaboration. Now they are interested in targeting and limiting collaboration because people are getting overwhelmed. We will probably see a return to the more curated, facilitated collaboration environments. Deloitte has found that giving people a bunch of tools and saying “Go innovate and share ideas” doesn’t work very well. Limiting the duration of a program is critical, and so is limiting the set of people that it makes sense to collaborate with.

My Comments
1. I “grew up” reading Tom Davenport’s books – especially the one on Process Innovation. I like what he says, and what he stands for.

2. Per the Deloitte finding above, having a clear goal is vital – the “what” that the team / group are innovating towards or sharing ideas for. “Go innovate” is about process – how you get to the goal. “Share ideas” is a behavior within the process – not the goal itself.

3. “Less is more” – come back to basic principles, and stop the unnecessary proliferation of tools and capabilities. For me, one area the “less is more” idea plays out is in aggregation of calendars (pillar 4) and task lists (pillar 6). Each individual should have an overall aggregation of their calendar and task list that works – even though that will pull in from multiple collaboration spaces.

4. Tom talks about measuring the value of collaboration, and says “most organizations aren’t really serious enough yet about collaboration to measure it much. They tend to be a lot more interested in traffic to their website than traffic on their collaboration tools site. They typically don’t have any particular focus on who should be collaborating with whom. That means you have to measure everything, such as overall hits on a collaboration site, or number of users of SharePoint.” In my view, hits to a collaboration site or the number of users of SharePoint is a not a measurement of the value of collaboration. That’s a whole separate discussion – and examining hit counts doesn’t work. But then Tom already says that.

One thought on “Tom Davenport on "How to Best Use Collaboration IT"

  1. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for posting this. I share the idea that “hits to a collaboration site or the number of users of SharePoint is a not a measurement of the value of collaboration”
    Real value of collaboration is certainly more than just the hits or users. A truly value-centric collaboration is about using collaboration tools to produce results that is aligned to the goals, objectives or purpose of the people behind those tools.

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