Collaboration in the Workplace: Where do You Start? |

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Collaboration in the Workplace: Where do You Start?


Posted by on May 24, 2012

Let’s say you’re an executive at a larger size organization with around 100,000 employees and are looking to infuse your company with collaboration, where do you start?  Now, I don’t mean starting in term of  developing use cases or reviewing vendors.  I mean, which department or group do you start with if you want to do a controlled pilot?  Assuming you have around 50-100 departments how do you figure out where you should begin?  A bit of a daunting and intimidating task!

There are two approaches to this.

What others are doing

The first thing you can do is put together some research on what other companies in your vertical are doing.  For example if you run a hotel company you may want to see where Marriott or Hyatt hotels got started.  Not a bad approach when you think about it right?  I mean, if other companies in your industry are seeing benefits from deploying in a specific department then you should to?  It might be interesting to learn about what other companies in your industry are doing and how they are doing it, but it’s not a good idea to base your deployment decisions on what other companies are doing.  Why?  When it comes to collaboration organizations each take a unique path.  The variables are too great to just emulate what other companies are doing.  Corporate culture, overall company situation, internal politics, team structure, business needs and drivers are most likely all going to be unique for each organization (to name a few).  From working with and researching hundreds of companies at this point, I can safely say that while some broader trends may exist, for the most part, every company is a unique case.  It’s a bit like trying to become a great chef by reading the recipes of others.  Sure, this might give you some ideas and inspiration but at the end of the day the greatest chefs in the world are the one’s who can take ingredients and make a unique dish that they can call their own.

Ask your employees

Why bother trying to play guessing games when you can ask your employees?  Again, it’s great to know what other companies are doing around collaboration but the best way for you to decide on where to get started is by asking your employees.  This doesn’t need to be a very difficult process.  A corporate survey distributed by email which asks a few questions such as the one’s mentioned below should do the trick:

  • What department are you in?
  • Are you using collaborative tools at work?
  • Are you seeing value from using these tools?

You might want to add/remove based on what makes sense for your organization, but just these three simple questions will tell you which department you should be looking at for a possible controlled pilot (assuming that a pilot is where you are going to be starting from vs an enterprise-wide deployment).  This approach is going to be the most accurate and more important the most relevant for your company.

I think uses cases and examples are always valuable.  They educate us, inspire us, and motivate us.  But, sometimes the answer to corporate problems can be found by asking those that work within our four walls.

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  • Craigcamuk

    I can see benefits in all departments but getting the buy-in from members in each,  who can champion it so that it is controlled (to a point) so as not to make a mess.


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