More Collaboration (isn’t Enough)

If you’re looking to “Enterprise 2.0” to make you:

  • Better at collaboration, or
  • More social, or
  • Better at innovation, or
  • Anything else that is equally vague… stop right now.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

And certainly, do not buy or build any Enterprise 2.0 tech just yet.

Let’s Back Up…

  • What will “better collaboration” actually do for me? Me – as in the one person currently reading this post (ok, you, if you insist).
  • What would that do for my normal team of co-workers?
  • What about the random teams/projects I get pulled into?
  • What about the company as a whole?
  • What about relationships to my partners, suppliers, customers, clients, patients, you name it?

Get specific, or go home…

A recent video posted by the Danish company Podio, illustrates a glimpse into the day in the life of a research scientist, and the wide variety of very specific, and quite different tasks/projects he needs to juggle to get his daily work done.

Watch below… (and back after the break)

Make a Project out of Getting Task-y

After watching the video…

  • Have you really thought through the *specific* and real-life tasks, projects, etc. that you or other people in your organization really need to get done?
  • In the places where they’ll be doing the work?
  • With structure (when needed), or freeform (where desired) to support *real* work – and not just some vague idea of a “collaborative environment?”

Is the toolset you’ve bought, built, or are about to use actually going to be useful in a “day in the life?”

  • If yes – fantastic – go forth and multiply. You wouldn’t believe how rare your situation is – run like the wind and make great things happen!
  • If not… please put your RFP on pause for a second, and look at the *specific* work that is done currently in your organization, and ask what will support that work – to enable more useful collaboration, to create the transparency that you need/want, makes it easier to share information for those who need it (while protecting truly sensitive information).

Trust me – “better collaboration” is not what you really want (see article on Internet Evolution from last year, or listen to an interview with Carlos Dominguez, SVP at Cisco). Better collaboration takes focus, and technology is the least of your worries. As Carlos said “If you suck at collaboration in real-life, you’re just going to suck virtually.”

For thoughts on other collaboration scenarios, see this webinar from last year:

How are you specifically supporting Collaboration/Innovation in your company?

I’d love to here the specific tasks, roles, etc. that you’re targeting with Enterprise 2.0 (or whatever term you happen to be using).


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  • What a great, concise, honest post about poorly thought-out collaboration initiatives. 

    Gordon Ross wrote a post “Clarity on Collaboration Please” about the sloppy use of the word collaboration: 

    “Collaboration” needs to be clearly defined and understood, and shouldn’t start with the technology. The “social business” hype has distracted a lot of folks from the real, human challenges around collaboration. 

    • Ephraim – thank you very much for the kind words. In the last year in
      particular, I’ve been recommitting myself to avoiding buzzwords and lofty
      ideals, and just lay bare the issues and opportunities I’ve seen over the

      It’s been months since I saw Gordon’s post – thanks for re-pointing me (and
      everyone else) in his direction. (Go read it, folks!)

      Absolutely, a spot-on piece.

      There’s a reason I dig the solutions and the guys over at ThoughtFarmer. No
      hype, just deliver the goods and get down to actual business impact, in a
      very clean and well thought out way.

      And agree – both the really high level ideals of Enterprise 2.0, and more
      specifically, Social Business, are far too removed from a “day in the life”
      of a regular (knowledge) worker. I’m all for vision and strategy, but if it
      doesn’t help the individuals that make up the larger team/organization, then
      what have we really changed from the “old paradigm?”

      Will you be at #e2conf in Boston next week? If so, would love to meet – if
      not, let’s find a time to chat in realtime.

      Thanks again for your comments.

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