Collaboration – We are not even close!

Everyone wants to be more connected and more collaborative. So – do we collaborate? Really collaborate? The power of the Internet allows friends to connect over Facebook, business colleagues to remain in touch over LinkedIn, and email, voice and video provides for richer connectedness. That’s true. Indeed, organisations like Cisco have developed sophisticated voice and video communication tools to allow people to connect in more meaningful and lifelike ways, wherever they are.

But my hypothesis is that we are still very far from understanding how to deeply and meaningfully collaborate. Very, very far. We say we are collaborative when we sit on a bunch of conference calls, or try and use an enterprise blog or Wiki (until we give up and go back to email) but that’s not collaborating.That’s just connecting.

True collaboration should involve:

  • Shared data stores with defined and agreed IP management rules. I should be able to safely and securely access information from any of my colleagues in select groups (within and outside of my organisation) with ease. Firewalls and passwords are transparent to me. Boundaries are there, but invisible. Today, this is almost impossible.
  • An etiquette for collaboration. When I post something in a colleague’s data ecosystem, there is an etiquette for collaboration that will give me confidence in when to expect a reply and in what form. Today, no such etiquette exists.
  • Almost immediate construction, and decomposition, of collaborative teams. If we decide to form a collaborative group today, with the press of a button I should be able to construct the teams, the data stores, the IM channels, and the IP protocols. Today this is an incremental process that usually breaks down half way through, and people revert to email.
  • Collaborative histories that can be easily and intuitively browsed. Who said what to whom, where, and when?
  • Collaborative document management and construction. We should be able to build plans, documents and presentations truly collaboratively. Ever tried to build a PowerPoint deck as a group of 10? Almost impossible to do this in a truly collaborative manner.

And that’s just the start of the list!

Email is an archaic, point-to-point, hub and spoke outdates communication tool. It inhibits collaboration. The problem is, we really don’t have anything much better.

Mind you, tools are not the place to start. We need to define truly collaborative business models that we agree to. Once defined, the tool set will be easy.



Filed under Collaboration

3 responses to “Collaboration – We are not even close!

  1. Excellent post that describes the current state of collaboration.
    We have the technology but we are still fumbling with the best way to apply it. As corporates we are our own worst enemies with the standardisation we impose that hinders seamless multi-platform collaboration.

  2. Shankar Ganesh P.J

    Very true. In many places we are not able to write new blog on hot technology or innovation with a fear of ideas get stolen/ diluted or breaking corporate policy.
    If most of collaboration come with open innovation IP protecting, it will be great help for innovation enthusiastic like me.

  3. Great post and replys.
    As for me well I have tried it many times as one example on linked in I connected with the exact people I needed even joined their groups and because I am an inventor innovator I drop in a new discussion and said ok instead of just talking lets use my invention as a true case and lets go for it. have a guess what happened? absolute silence day 2 nothing day 3 nothing all these so called experts geniuses brillient minds gone nothing so there is alot more toit then just collaboration its trying to find a way to qualify real time those that talk a good game and those that can actually perform a good game. I wish there was somewhere because we would have some amazing products hit the market if we had the platform forit and could work our way around VC’s

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