Cynthina Heinsohn, my partner, and I collaborate with each other to manage our business and advance our projects. For the latter, we also collaborate with clients to meet their business objectives and with external partners in various capacities.
We’re like everyone else when it comes to collaboration. Sometimes we hit the mark and others we fall short. We’ve learned successful collaboration can be encapsulated by a simple formula:
Collaboration = Connection + Communication + Cooperation + Integration
The challenge is finding pathways to collaboration. Part of that movement relates to mindset. By definition, collaboration is the act of working with others to achieve a common goal. Try to control the process of collaboration and you’ll fail.
The other pathway element is providing the means to collaborate. Technology is a big boost in this regard, especially with the folks we need to work with located in diverse locations. Technology can also be an equalizer, allowing a wider array of folks to participate than might occur via other means.
Technology pathways to collaboration
Through technology, we have the means to organize information to make it findable for people, which helps to stimulate both connection and discussion. We’re also more able to see the touch points that are necessary to integrate knowledge and ideas.
Technology also provides a pathway to online discussion through community sites, branded corporate and public sites. In addition, it provides the means to monitor discussions, providing a springboard to join the discussion.
Cooperation is stimulated by tools like wikis and blogs, which allow people to capture and share information.
Discussion groups provide forums where people can communicate about and debate topics of interest or concern. By their online nature, forums also mean a wider range of folks can participate, providing both ownership and feeding diversity of ideas. On the flip side, solutions like CRM software allows folks to capture and share information about business relationships.
Lastly, integration comes through the means of multi-disciplinary teams who can come together to provide holistic solutions to business problems. Again, through tools like wikis, blogs, and communities.
And lastly, technology provides security to online collaboration when this is required.
The challenge businesses face is there is no one all encompassing technology tool to support collaboration. The right tool set will vary depending on a company’s business needs and budget.
Because of this variability, companies wishing to implement technologies to support collaboration will need…er…a collaborative team comprised of folks who understand business, technology and user needs and can pull it all together to ensure all needs are met.