A while back my friend and colleague Shawn Callahan asked me to pitch in with him and fellow Anecdote-ite Mark Schenk to write a paper on collaboration. It is out today on the Anecdote site –> Anecdote – Whitepapers – Building a collaborative workplace. From the introduction:
Today we all need to be collaboration superstars. The trouble is, collaboration is a skill and set of practices we are rarely taught. It’s something we learn on the job in a hit-or-miss fashion. Some people are naturals at it, but most of us are clueless.
Our challenge doesn’t stop there. An organisation’s ability to support collaboration is highly dependent on its own organisational culture. Some cultures foster collaboration while others stop it dead in its tracks.
To make matters worse, technology providers have convinced many organisations that they only need to purchase collaboration software to foster collaboration. There are many large organisations that have bought enterprise licences for products like IBM’s Collaboration Suite or Microsoft’s Solutions for Collaboration who are not getting good value for money, simply because people don’t know how to collaborate effectively or because their culture works against collaboration.
Of course technology plays an important role in effective collaboration. We are not anti-technology. Rather we want to help redress the balance and shift the emphasis from merely thinking about collaboration technology to thinking about collaboration skills, practices, technology and supporting culture. Technology makes things possible; people collaborating makes it happen.
This paper has three parts. We start by briefly exploring what we mean by collaboration and why organisations and individuals should build their collaboration capability. Then, based on that understanding, we lay out a series of steps for developing a collaboration capability. We finish the paper with a simple test of your current collaboration capability.
I think the issue is beyond building a collaborative workplace. It applies to our communities and networks. But heck, starting with organizations is always worth a try, eh? 😉
While we were co-writing (using a Google doc) I started reading more about the differences between collaboration and cooperation – which we don’t address in the paper, but which are important. So I’ve noted that for future writing. If you are interested in Cooperation, don’t miss Howard Rheingold’s work on this.