The word “Collaboration” is used to describe way too many tools that are part of a collaborative eco-system but do not define collaboration itself. Many of the vendors are calling their content sharing technology “collaboration technology”. But content sharing is only one aspect of collaboration and only for real-time collaboration.
Let’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.