Defining Collaboration – 4. Mapping People, Work, and Outcomes to Technology Capabilities

This is the fourth post in a series about defining collaboration. Previously:
– Post 1 looked at the three P’s of collaboration (potential, process, and practice).
– Post 2 talked about four types of work.
– Post 3 examined the ceiling of opportunity and value.

This post looks at mapping the elements of collaboration to the technology required.

My (broad) definition of collaboration is people working with other people towards a common outcome. Thus there are three aspects in here: (1) people, (2) working together, and (3) common outcome. Here’s how I view the world of collaboration technology as applied to particular people groups working on common outcomes.

Type 1 – Team (project team)
People: A defined team of people (with known and defined membership, but it can vary, usually through moderated access rights.)
Working Together: They are working on a project together.
Common Outcome: Successful delivery of the project (with metrics around timeline, budget, impact.)
Technology: See the 7 Pillars framework.

Type 2 – Group (group, community of interest, community of practice)
People: A particular group of people (with defined membership, but it can vary through moderated or unmoderated access rights.)
Working Together: They are sharing best practices through discussion and dialogue.
Common Outcome: To improve how a particular thing (process or activity) is carried out within the firm.
Technology: I haven’t written a specific group framework yet, but some of the elements of the 7 Pillars framework apply (Pillar 1, Pillar 5, Pillar 7, especially).

Type 3 – All Employees
People: All employees within the organization (or at least, those that want to participate.)
Working Together: They are talking about their work, sharing ideas, and learning about what others are doing.
Common Outcome: To discover other people doing similar or related work, and therefore to have the opportunity to work together on a specific project or deliverable.
Technology: 4 Foundations framework, and look at my article on Implicit Collaboration too.

Type 4 – With Prospects and Customers
People: Employees and prospects (people outside the organization, who may buy products and services.)
Working Together: Prospects have business or personal goals to reach, and employees of the particular company want to show how they can help them reach their goals.
Common Outcome: Joint achievement of individual goals – for the prospect to do stuff better, and for the employee to build profitable relationships with prospects and customers.
Technology: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other Web 2.0 / Social media tools that help with identifying / discovering potential prospects, and then engaging with them through various means.

Question: Where are you doing a great job today with collaboration? Where do you need to focus more in 2011?

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