Creating Collaboration Takes More Than Technology

Evan Rosen wrote a nice article in Business Week titled “Creating Collaboration Takes More Than Technology”.

The following is a synopsis of that article:  In a typical scenario, the months fly by after the collaboration tools are implemented. As the seasons change, decision-makers anticipate reaping the benefits of collaboration. And perhaps they can even point to successes within particular business units or functions. Often, though, it’s the same old story. The company remains for the most part internally competitive, hierarchical, and command-and-control driven. The tools alone have failed to make the company collaborative. Worse yet, the tools may have created no real value, and the decision-makers who had pinned such high hopes on these tools are surprised. Are the tools the problem? More likely, the problem is the organization. When tools fail to create value, it’s usually because decision-makers adopt tools before the company’s culture and processes are collaboration-ready.

Organizations even adopt tools for the wrong reasons, primarily the belief that tools will create collaboration. Tools merely offer the potential for collaboration. Unlocking the value of tools happens only when an organization fits tools into collaborative culture and processes. If the culture is hierarchical and internally competitive, it will take more than tools to shift the culture. Just because a competitor uses collaborative tools doesn’t mean the time is right for your organization to do likewise. If the competitor is apparently deriving value from tools, maybe it’s because the competitor’s culture is more collaborative and the tools are extending and enhancing the culture.

To help fix the issue he recommends the following:

  • Focus on Culture Before Tools
  • Fit Tools into Business Processes
  • Adopt Spontaneous Work Styles
  • Use Tools to Develop Products and Services
  • Give the Entire Organization Access to the Same Tools