Collaboration Learnings: I Can Still Learn Things!

Learnings about using collaborative tools in the Enterprise

In a prior post on Enterprise 2.0 I mentioned in passing that I believe one has to go on the journey themselves to learn what this means and how it changes things.   You’ve really got to see it in action and experience it for yourself and you’ve got to see teams starting to behave differently.   I should point out that I’ve been doing an internal blog for over 1.5 years and we are heavily using a wiki infrastructure.  A few things I’ve learned or changed my thinking about in the past year:

  1. The idea of co-editing and teams working on things together in parallel is a great idea, but it takes time to get there.   We are not used to co-editing and we’ve been conditioned for years to do our thing and then email it to others for comments.  The idea of putting your content somewhere that others can edit along with you requires a real shift in thinking.   I recently did an important presentation and I posted the draft on-line and then edited the document over several days and invited others to contribute and see it evolve.   Very different.
  2. You need to encourage people to engage and contribute.   People are sometimes hesitant to contribute to or comment on or edit content created by others.   I’ve had people send me emails telling me something to correct instead of just being bold and correcting it themselves.     It is really hard for people at lower levels in an organization to comment on content added by higher levels.    This is even more so when different cultures are involved.   There will always be the bold few who will comment on anything, but you want to engage with those farther away from your strong ties.   You want to establish a culture that is inviting to contributions and dialog.  This takes a bit of time.
  3. I’ve found myself doing more content creation in these tools (wiki) than in presentation tools.   I used to consider myself (still do) a Zen Master at a certain presentation tool set.    I’ve always been proud of the quality and content of the key presentations I made to various groups.   Sometime this year, my thinking shifted away from creating pretty slides and shifted more into the ideas and content.   I’m now focusing more on the content than the presentation which is probably a great change.
  4. One thing about doing content creation on a collaborative tool is that you can share the link to the content and let people check in at different times to see the latest version.   I don’t have the problem of mailing a deck of slides that are out of date two days later when I need to send a new deck.
  5. Related to (3) I’ve also greatly reduced the demands I make on others for presentations.  I want my own people to spend less time doing presentations and spend more time on content.   I need to reduce whatever overhead I’m placing on my own team to make presentations for me.   I’ve had many presentations this year that were just out of wiki pages or on-line analytics where teams and individuals were using the tools of every day to communicate with me.   Less overhead.    I just don’t need that beautiful deck of slides like I used to demand.
  6. It is really possible to get input from a much wider group of people on your ideas if your content is available to a larger group.   In the past, one would typically share with one’s staff or some relatively small group of close in people (strong ties).   This past year, I’ve put drafts of my top level goals out for any employee to read and comment on and I’ve received input about those goals from more sources than otherwise possible.   Contributions from people who might not have otherwise had a chance were able to help me make my goals better than before.   There are multiple cases where this has happened for me using these tools and ideas.
  7. I’ve come to believe that transparency is more and more important inside an Enterprise.    We need more people engaged and helping to solve the problem of the day and I believe that employees want to know what the leadership is thinking about and seeing.   In the case of IT I’ve come to believe that with a few exceptions, it is better to make most of our learnings, FAQs, documentation, plans, etc. visible to all inside the company.   The side benefit of being transparent is that nobody can complain that they don’t know what IT is doing!
  8. After a visit with Cisco and hearing of their enthusiasm with video, I decided to do a few video posts to the blog.   I was shocked by the strong and positive response these posts received.   From around the world, inside and outside my own organization, I received positive comments.   People were very pleased to get a 3-5 minute video from me.   I have more to explore on this front.
  9. I’ve come to realize how important search is to find content.  I was late on understanding this one.   More on this another time.
  10. Finally, I realized that it is hard for people who aren’t in the middle of this to understand that some of these things really are game changers for an organization.  It doesn’t really look different from a distance.   There is more to say about this which I might put in another post.   I think the Enterprise 2.0 book is helpful in this regard.  I’m going to write about ROI on this later too.

I’m certainly interested in others learnings and ideas.  I need all the good ideas I can find.  Comments are welcome.

5 thoughts on “Collaboration Learnings: I Can Still Learn Things!”

  1. re: search

    I think any good social media platform has built-in mechanisms which allows users to act as filters to make the information more findable for their colleagues. This is something that doesn’t exist in traditional KM or enterprise search engines – well at least until semantics based search engines become the norm. 🙂

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