Collaboration is a State of Mind

July 9, 2007 at 2:02 pm | Posted in collaboration | 10 Comments

As a technology industry analyst we often talk about “collaborative technologies” or products and technologies in the “collaboration market”, but I know that’s a lazy shortcut to a more complex issue. While document libraries or wikis in the “collaboration” box on a diagram of the marketplace, do I really mean you’re automatically collaborating whenever you use one of these technologies?

Of course not. We define collaboration as requiring a workspace and a shared goal. The technologies placed there fit this criteria. But what counts as a workspace can be in the mind of the collaborators and can often be surprising. Here are three examples.

  • Walls: Generally one does not think of a wall as a collaborative workspace, but it certainly can be with a set of artifacts with loaded meanings and a collaborative mindset among the participants. I have heard of agile development scrums where the use of post-its on a wall where post-it color, placement, and colored circles with various meanings attached to the post-its upon completion are used by all involved on the project to track the steps needed to copmlete a task.
  • Windows: When I was working in a credit card company I had a large window and a small whiteboard. My solution to mapping out problems with people was often to use the whiteboard markers to write on the window (don’t try this at home!). My window was therefore a collaboration space.
  • Whiteboards: Magnatag is a company that has pushed an ancient technology – whiteboards (the physical kind, not virtual) – as far as they will go with very complex vertical-specific applications. For example, see this $1000+ admissions and bed census control board for a 600 bed hospital unit. When a team of nurses or administrators uses this board to update their portion of the overall view for all to see in order to maximize utilization, they are collaborating.

On the contrary, technologies often associated with collaboration can be used in non-collaborative ways. A document library can be a great way for a team to collaborate on a set of documents. But it can also be used by a single person as a shared drive or for backup purposes. A wiki could be used as an easy way for one person to create a set of web pages even though the ability for others to edit and comment has been turned off, making it just a web publishing mechanism.

Why does all this nomenclature matter? First, I wanted to get my full reasoning down so that when I use a shortcut to zip onto another point I’m trying to make, one can always refer back here for the complete story. Second, when organizations ask which technologies they can use to improve collaboration, it becomes clear that it is the way in which the technologies are used, not the technologies themselves, that characterizes collaborative activity. Figuring out how to get people to collaborate together – whether it is with a multi-million dollar collaboration suite or a pad of post-its and a wall – is the first hurdle.

Advertisements

10 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with
    hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to
    no backup. Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

  2. What i don’t realize is in truth how you’re not actually
    much more well-liked than you may be now. You are so intelligent.
    You understand therefore considerably on the subject of this topic, made me in my opinion imagine it from
    so many varied angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved except it’s something to accomplish with Woman gaga!
    Your own stuffs nice. At all times handle it up!

  3. Just curious, what prompted this particular blog post?
    Did it stem from personal experience or anything else?

  4. Hey this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering
    if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  5. When they do settle down, oftentimes, the chemistry just
    isn’t the same. Earlier, the cell telephones might be used only when the ship was sailing close to the coast or in view of land because land primarily based cellular phone towers utilized by the ship. People who own a business want to see fast growth and for that they want to get the best technology.

  6. Hey There. I discovered your weblog the use of msn.
    That is an extremely neatly written article. I will make
    sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your
    helpful information. Thank you for the post.
    I’ll definitely return.

  7. This article gives clear idea designed for the new visitors of blogging,
    that really how to do blogging and site-building.

  8. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted
    to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog
    posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  9. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple
    ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop,
    just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has
    83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  10. Excellent post however , I was wondering if you
    could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Bless you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: