What is your Organization’s Attitude to Video?

Attitude or culture on its own won’t lead to success. Culture is a catalyst that will either enable or encumber plans and initiatives. You still need plans, actions and strategies, but if you have a poor attitude or corporate culture towards an initiative, the chances of success will be hampered and often times derailed. There are many successful video deployments and many unsuccessful video deployments. Whether a deployment is successful or unsuccessful ultimately can be traced to the corporate culture or attitude of an organization toward evolving to video communications.

Has video conferencing crossed “The Chasm” to the mainstream market?

Author Geoffrey Moore, is probably best known for his book, “Crossing the Chasm”, in which he describes the stages of adoption a technology must go through if it is to be used by the vast majority of people. The Chasm, is a critical section in the “Early Adopters” stage where a technology either makes the critical leap or never makes it past the “Early Adopters” stage.

Creating the Workplace of Tomorrow

In order to have effective collaboration you must transform your workspace into a place where individuals can work, play and innovate.
The ET Group invites you to join us on March 20th when Stanford Design School Directors Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft host the 1st of Cisco’s web series entitled: Creating the Workspace of Tomorrow.

Building an inclusive, flexible and innovative Community Collaboration Ecosystem

Our existing models of working together are just not as effective as they used to be, as a result there is often a lack of innovation, siloing and generally slow progress on requirements that demand ever faster solutions. A Community Collaborative Ecosystem is a new model that will enhance innovation.

3 Steps to Building a Collaborative Business

Investing in technology tools that drive innovation & connect stakeholders will help accelerate collaboration if people know how to use them.

What Type of Space Do You Need?

Meeting rooms are where workspace and technology really come together. Room systems must be effective places to meet where both the physical and virtual world intersect seamlessly. They must contain the right mix of conferencing technologies to enable the required level of collaboration and this will naturally lead to innovation.

Are you having a hard time selling collaboration in your organization?

CollaborationSuccessful organizations, big and small, are successful because of their ability to collaborate. Organizations that collaborate make more money. Collaboration is the predecessor to innovation and innovative companies win in today’s competitive landscape. Whether a company has two employees or 20,000, improved collaboration represents your best opportunity to tap the full talents of your people, move with greater speed and flexibility and compete to win over the next decade.

Then why is “selling” a collaboration strategy internally so darn hard?

Collaboration = culture + process + technology

You can’t achieve collaboration without all three working together and often it’s hard to demonstrate to an organization that perhaps their culture or their process is not conducive to an effective collaboration strategy. This is a hard sell. Technology can always be bought or retrofitted. It’s the first two, culture and process, that can grind an organization to a halt when determining the right collaboration solution path.

Here are three of the biggest challenges we see every day in pitching collaboration solutions to a team or organization:

1. People often don’t understand the meaning of Collaboration.

Collaboration is often misunderstood. Collaboration is an intangible tool for extracting knowledge, resources and ideas of anyone and everyone inside and outside an organization. Collaboration should be used to tap into your pool of talent and use the ideas and resources that will make your organization fit for a market that is changing at Mach speed.

Idea: Kick start your collaboration strategy by gaining a common interpretation of collaboration within your organization. Allowing people to phone in for a meeting is not collaboration but applying an interactive whiteboard session to your next planning session is a step that people can embrace.

2. People can’t track and measure collaboration output or define metrics.

The ROI on Collaboration can be defined by three specific measures: Operational measures, Productivity measures and Strategic Measures. An operational measure includes decreasing traveling costs and decreasing costs associated with office space. Collaboration can be measured by an increase in Productivity such as improved decision making cycles and efficient project completion. Strategic measures are harder to quantify but they include enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. If the benefits of collaboration are properly measured a huge ROI can be realized.

3. People don’t know how to build or execute a Collaboration strategy.

Many ­­organizations embrace the idea of collaboration but often struggle to define the steps and actions to make it happen. They often lack a guide or thought leader with respect to how they should approach their collaboration strategy. Collaboration technology is often implemented without strategy and organizations never reap the benefits or ROI.

Idea: Create a Collaboration Roadmap using strategic planning methodologies. Many people jump into purchasing equipment before they think through a strategy. This is because it is easier to pitch a capital expense then tackle culture and process. Before investing in collaboration technology, map the needs and capabilities of the organization and assess the people receiving your messages.

Being more collaborative means knowing your weaknesses, openly communicating, being authentic to yourself and knowing your position on a team. To adopt a collaborative culture in an organization it must encourage authenticity, open and frequent communication, team based work, communication technology that is all interconnected and clear visions.

Free eBook to Get You Started…

If you have experienced one or all three these issues while trying to pitch collaboration to your organization, download this free guide: 47 Collaboration Quotes. We created this guide to help people use the quotes to sell collaboration within your organization and help you address these obstacles.

Without Collaboration, There is No Innovation!

I recently wrote about the importance of Innovation. We reviewed why people and organizations that consistently innovate are not only able to sustain themselves in ever changing environments but that they actually grow and thrive beyond their peers.

Innovation is not about invented technologies; it is about how those technologies are applied in meaningful ways. The US Patent & Trademark Office estimates that only one out of every 500 patents has any chance of commercialization. Innovation combines existing technological inventions with new ways of doing things, to create new value.

So far we know:

Collaboration= Innovation

Innovation= Sustainability in the Market & Economic Prosperity

Collaboration is to Innovation as Innovation is to economic prosperity. You can’t sustain prosperity long term without Innovation and you cant be truly innovative without robust and consistent collaboration with others.

Collaboration is about the pooling of ideas, resources and energies. Whenever people come together in creative discussion about how to solve a problem or create something new, the most powerful mechanism of development comes to bear. A big gene pool of ideas, perspectives and experiences always trumps limited pools. And so, we should look for ways to foster collaboration as a required stepping stone to Innovation.

121900809This isn’t always the obvious approach. Often we want to keep our best ideas to ourselves so that we can realize the benefits and not have others steal them or get credit for them. In reality, by sharing openly we will likely realize more and quicker success.

Don Tapscott, in his book entitled Wikinomics, describes the new world economy based on four Collaboration principles of Openness, Peering, Sharing and Acting Globally. He describes how a number of companies reached huge levels of success by adopting these principles even when it seemed counter intuitive.

Top Three Business Examples of Collaboration Driving Innovation:

  1. IBM resisted the open platform software development efforts of the Linux community for many years. Their logic was that the Linux effort was competitive to their own software business and that Linux would die off eventually. After several years of resistance IBM realized that Linux was here to stay and actually was contributing huge value to the world. At a certain point, IBM decided to join the Linux community and over time, shared approximately $100 million dollars worth of their own development efforts for free. What they got back for opening their development ‘kimono’, was over $400 million in free development.
  2. Another Ontario based mining company broke the traditional taboo of their industry by publishing all its geological data on the internet asking for advice on where to mine and offered a reward for new ideas. Their revenues increased from $100 million to $9 billion, almost entirely out of openness, collaboration and trust.
  3. In the newest book from the Intelligent Communities Foundation entitled ‘Seizing our Destiny’ the authors describe how 7 communities around the world earned the rank of Most Intelligent Communities. Invariably these communities started with collaboration as a corner stone of their path to new successes. Several of them were coming from the depths of serious challenges and were forced to reinvent themselves in creative and innovative ways.

So as it turns out, Collaboration is the necessary predecessor to Innovation.

It is critical that we all create environments of mass collaboration. Enabling creative thinking and acting wherever we co-exist. We should challenge ourselves to enable those environments with technologies that allow flexible work styles and places. We should foster those principles of Openness, Peering, Sharing and Acting Globally whenever we can.

What greatness can you or your organization possibly achieve by Collaborating better?

If you are still trying to “sell” collaboration in your organization and people don’t understand how collaboration achieves innovation and economic sustainability, here are some handy quotes for you to use.

What does INNOVATION really mean?

Some months ago, I was sitting in a community economic development meeting being presented a 5 year plan for the regional government. One of the principal tenets was that the community needed to provide an environment that fostered innovation as a key enabler to sustained prosperity.

I was amazed to hear a number of my colleagues, business owners and government leaders, comment on how innovation was an overused term that didn’t really mean anything. Several expressed their lack of understanding of what innovation is and why it is important.

Apparently, my colleagues are not alone. There seems to be a growing frustration on this very topic. (Have a read on successful innovation companies.)

I am sure the people in this meeting were just voicing what many other business and community leaders have asked themselves:

What does innovation really mean?

  1. How does it get realized within a business or organization?
  2. What really is the outcome for the business or organization?

178089032Innovation and Employment in the Intelligent Community , published by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), describes how Innovation is linked to employment for individuals, companies, governments and communities. It turns out that economic growth is not simply a matter of two inputs: capital ($s invested) and labor (people employed), as once thought. A study by economist Moses Abramovitz found that there was a missing X-factor that accounted for growth in economic output. That missing factor turned out to be the introduction of new technology translating into innovation.

Management consultant Peter Drucker suggests that, “the only business activities that actually create value are innovation (making something new) and marketing (finding a way to sell it). Everything else a business does – all of its visible aspects from buildings and assembly lines – are just costs that have to be paid from the proceeds of innovation and marketing.

Striving for innovation is imperative for businesses and organizations today. Competition in today’s wired world is fierce and instantaneous. Finding new ways to do things and sell things is what will keep companies and communities evolving. But many organizations stumble when it comes to arming their people with the right leadership skills, processes and tools to truly implement and understand the power of innovation.

So how do you start to realize innovation in your organization?

  1. First define the sandbox. What is broken and where is their new ways of doing something?
  2. How will people in a business or organization work together to foster innovation?
  3. How will success be defined?

For many years, ET Group has kept a close eye on question #2. Many companies and organizations spend a great deal of time and money identifying opportunities for innovation but then fail to allow the people in their organizations to collaborate in a way that will foster innovation in their organizations.

Authors Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, in their book The Collaboration Imperative, suggest that “improved collaboration represents your best opportunity to tap the full range of talents of your people, move with greater speed and flexibility and compete to win over the next decade.”

Collaboration is perhaps the most important tenet of innovation and should be part of a definition in any organization.


Before You Choose Technology, Think About What Collaboration Really Means

GroupLet’s start with collaboration – what does it really mean? Some definitions are as simple as “to work jointly with others”, but others go as far as to say “to cooperate or work jointly with another group with which one is not immediately connected”. Now that’s interesting…at least to me.  I’m going to be talking about communicating, but connecting is certainly a good, and a critical, place to begin.

Technology helps us to connect and communicate.  It’s an enabler. We all can think of many technological staples that were invented for those reasons alone – telephone, email, social media.  Think about how these things impact human behavior and how we’ve all had to change over the years to adapt.

Every day we’re faced with choices of which type of technology to use to connect and communicate.  Sometimes our choices are based on our own levels of comfort or access to the various options.  However, because connecting and communicating always involves others, an equally important consideration should be what will best suit those who are on the receiving end, and how will your choice impact success in getting your message across?

The good news is that we have many choices today – or a lot of tools in our toolkits, as some might say. The bad news is that we have a lot of tools in our toolkits…see where I’m going with this? How do we choose in a way that will help us all be successful?  Early collaboration helps.

It has always been important to understand the needs and abilities of your organization’s user group when selecting a technology in which to invest.  However, it has never been more important than today to understand the abilities, access and comfort of those on the receiving end of your messages – clients and customers, investors and advisors, and other key stakeholders.  Really, you need to see it as an extension of your own user community.  After all, what’s the point of putting out a great newspaper if nobody reads it?

We are all in the communication business today, largely because of the multitude of options at everybody’s disposal and the sheer volume of messages sent forth into the atmosphere on a daily and hourly basis.  It has never been more important to ensure that you and your key folks are on the “same wavelength” – literally!

By including your key stakeholders in discussions when you’re changing up your corporate infrastructure or habits, you will be ensuring that your communication technology continues to meet your strategic and operational objectives.  And you will be sharing insight and best practices with your customers, vendors, and corporate stewards, and hopefully bringing them along on your technological journey.

No matter what, this will create the basis for a more collaborative relationship going forward.

Ruth Bayne is President of Elantis Consulting Corp., a Toronto based management consulting firm specializing in transformational change, stakeholder alignment and operational effectiveness.