Smart Collaboration - Finding and Implementing the Right Amount of Collaboration in the Enterprise


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The Web 2.0 ideas and technologies provide completely new possibilities in the area of collaboration. The collaboration of project teams or networks is in most cases one of the first and most concrete use cases of social business software. How can social business platforms best support the different kinds of social groups and their particular way of collaboration? Which other framework conditions have to be given?
In this whitepaper we want to address these questions. The single chapters are not built upon one another but examine different perspectives of this issue. They are complementary and correlate.

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Smart Collaboration - Finding and Implementing the Right Amount of Collaboration in the Enterprise

  1. 1. Simone Happ | Dr. Jenny Meyer |Frank WolfSmart Collaboration Finding and implementing the right amount of collaboration in the enterprise.
  2. 2. 2Table of contents Introduction ................................................................................................................................................. 3 Incentives for cooperation – the important role of organizational design for collaboration ..................................... 5 Social groups in the firm: Why networks fail often ............................................................................................. 8 The four barriers of collaboration – How to measure and remove them ............................................................. 13 Conclusion................................................................................................................................................. 18About usSimone Happ is Dr. Jenny Meyer is an expert on Frank Wolf leads the socialexperienced in knowledge the implementation of Social collaboration topic at T-management, social Business for companies. She Systems Multimedia, communication considered this topic from the Frank is an active blogger onmanagement and theoretical perspective while andenterprise 2.0 for more she did her PhD and she published/ co-authored thethan a decade. She works accompanied companies in Book Social Intranet. He alsoas a consultant in T- implementing Social Business initiated the social softwareSystems Multimedia solutions while working as a evaluation siteSolutions GmbH and Senior Consultant for T- www.socialsoftwarematrix.orgfocuses today on Systems Multimedia Solutions. and is a frequent speaker atcollaboration solutions for Currently, she is taking a time social collaboration andthe energy market. out and works for a dive centre intranet conferences and in Thailand. training sessions.
  3. 3. 3Introduction„We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a waythat others cannot.“ Tim Cook, Apple CEOFor Apple deep collaboration refers to the intense interconnectedness of all teams involved in the productdevelopment. They simultaneously work on design, technology, production, marketing etc. and coordinateeach other in many loops. This is not necessarily the most slender way to develop a product, but it allows alldetails to be perfectly coordinated and controlled. Besides many other examples, the development of iPod,iTunes and the iTunes music store particularly shows the results that are possible by pursuing a businessstrategy which is completely collaboration-orientated. Actually, Sony had the best prerequisites for the marketleadership on the way to the digital revolution of the music industry: the contents, the technology, the designknow-how – everything was there. However, the single competencies at Sony were organized within differentbusiness divisions, which didn’t manage to jointly work on one target although they tried several times and formany months.Collaboration as strategyApple impressively demonstrated what the results of a cleverly organized collaboration within a business canbe. The fact that the CEO of Apple (at the time of the quotation still COO) emphasizes the issue ofcollaboration reveals something additional: for Apple collaboration is a core feature of its strategy and culture.Collaboration is no usual investment good of which one can buy more or less. It is the consequence of anorganizational design which enables and motivates employees to collaborate through incentives, structures,leadership, processes and a lived culture – or not. For those who earn their money with knowledge-intensiveproducts or services, a fundamental understanding of these coherences is nowadays more important thanever. In the face of an increasing importance of knowledge-intensive services (see Figure 1) this topic isrelevant for more and more businesses.
  4. 4. 4 knowledge- intensive services services (not knowledge-intensive) knowledge-intensive manufacturing industry manufacturing industry (not knowledge-intensive) 1Figure 1: Development of gross value added according to knowledge intensity per economic sector in Germany from 1995 to 2006Hence, a lot of collaboration is the best? Maybe.Unfortunately, it is not as simple as it subsequently looks in the example of Sony vs. Apple. A lot ofcollaboration is not always the means of choice. Meetings, conversations or working groups cost time andmoney and sometimes the result is not a seminal innovation but only an internal working paper no one everpicks up. Collaboration is an optimization problem: How much collaboration is optimal for a business so thatthe total utility of collaboration is bigger than its total costs? If collaboration is a scarce resource, how can itbe distributed to the appropriate sites within the business? Can one ensure that the right employees want tocollaborate?The Web 2.0 ideas and technologies provide completely new possibilities in the area of collaboration. Thecollaboration of project teams or networks is in most cases one of the first and most concrete use cases ofsocial business software. How can social business platforms best support the different kinds of social groupsand their particular way of collaboration? Which other framework conditions have to be given?In this whitepaper we want to address these questions. The single chapters are not built upon one anotherbut examine different perspectives of this issue. They are complementary and correlate.The first chapter focusses on incentive systems for cooperation and the important role of the organizationaldesign for collaboration. Thereby, we consider the difficult combination of collaboration and strong individualincentives, the limitations of altruistic motives when collaborating within a business and organizational and Source: Bedeutung der wissensintensiven Dienstleistungen für Wachstum von Wertschöpfung und Beschäftigung (Ulrich1Schasse),,property=pdf,bereich=bmwi,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf
  5. 5. 5technical consequences. The existence of strong and weak interconnectedness within businesses and thequestion why networking is so hard are objects of the second chapter. The focus thereby lies on thedifferentiation between different types of social groups within businesses, the variety of motivational factorsfor collaboration, the functioning of a tool support at each social group and the difficulties in dealing with the„weak ties“.2 In the third chapter we consider the four barriers of collaboration, how to measure theircharacteristics and potential strategies remove them in accord with Morten T. Hansen3.Incentives for cooperation – the important role of organizational design for collaborationCollaboration is no usual investment good of which one can buy more or less. It is the consequence of anorganizational design which enables and motivates employees to collaborate through incentives, structures,leadership, processes and a lived culture – or not. The following deliberations are based on the book “Themodern firm” in which the author John Roberts descriptively applies the latest insights of the so-called newinstitutional economics to the practical issues of modern firms.4 A widespread model in this research area isthe principal-agent theory.5 It provides an explanatory approach for the acting of people within hierarchies.The core is about the relations between a superior (principal) and an employee (agent).Employees between initiative and cooperationApproaching this relation from the perspective of collaboration, it becomes clear that an organizationrequires two fundamental behaviors from its employees: initiative and cooperation.Initiative refers to the optimal fulfillment of the (measureable and directly influenceable) own goals andresponsibilities, such as developing new products, reducing costs or selling more. Cooperation placesspecial emphasis on the public welfare of the organization, such as the altruistic support of otherdepartments or contributions to the organization as a whole. The cooperative behaviors could be consideredas part of the own initiative, but mostly they cannot be clearly defined as goals or measured. One can appealto them, but one cannot demand and track them like personal goals. In the principal-agent theory, thechallenge presented is called multi-tasking: an employee has two potential behaviors. He will concentrate onthat one which offers him the highest possible incentives. An organization now faces the task to optimallysteer the desired behavior by providing incentives.The steering of initiative and cooperation does not only take place via explicit goals and performance pay butincludes a broad set of factors that have to be synchronized within the framework of an organizational design.An organization that primarily focuses on initiative could look like the following:  Independent organizational units of manageable size  Clear over-all strategy and synchronized cross-company policies  The unit heads have extensive authority to decide, but are clearly measured against their results  Less hierarchy levels in the complete organization Mark Granovetter: The Strength of Weak Ties. In: American Journal of Sociology 78 (1973), S. 1360–1380.2 Morten Hansen: Collaboration, Harvard Business Review Press, 20093 John Roberts: The Modern Firm : Organizational Design for Performance and Growth, Oxford University Press, 20074
  6. 6. 6  strong individual incentives to goal attainment in the single units  centralized information systems that allow an easy monitoring and reporting of the single unitsThis fundamental organizational approach of decentralization has been proved as competitive and efficientand is nowadays implemented in many firms. Decisions are made quickly and close to the market andcustomers and everyone immediately realize the effects of their actions. The prevalence rate of variable paywithin firms proves the dominance of this approach. Quote from a current study on this topic:Almost all firms have variable pay and most of them are doing so for more than ten years. Thereby the bonus,that is variable pay dependent on the attainment of goals, is by far the most popular option. The majorityexpects a mostly steady level of variable pay. A third of the firms even expect an increase.6Within such a designing one can expect a cooperative collaboration between the single units only to a limitedextent. Particularly difficult will be innovations that require collaboration between different departments or ajointly coordinated market entry to fully reap the potentials of cross-selling.Hence, the question is how the appropriate portion of cooperation can be admixed with initiative?1. Answer via incentives and the resolution of the social dilemmaThe one that has elements of initiative as well as cooperation within its job description (as probably mosthave) will almost every time face an incentive system that rewards initiative. That is due to initiative beingbetter measurable and relatable (as revenue, profit, innovation etc.) than cooperation. If cooperative elementsare added to this incentive system, such as the over-all revenue, than, most of the time, it is better to actselfish and to optimize the part which lies in one’s own hand and to take the common part as free rider along.Unfortunately, here lurks a social dilemma which constitutes a huge challenge for all cooperative intentions,also such as e.g. the knowledge management.7 1. Every participant gets a higher profit for a non-cooperative action and 2. all participants are altogether better-posed if they cooperate rather than choosing selfishly.This effect vanishes not until e.g. the over-all revenue accounts for the biggest part. At that time however, wealready have a cooperative model with considerably decreased individual incentives. The social dilemmamakes it difficult from the incentive perspective to find a simple middle way between initiative andcooperation.2. Answer via individual incentives within collaborationThe collaboration researcher Morten Hansen sees one expedient from this incentive dilemma in individualincentives to cooperate. For example, managers should be evaluated by their peer colleagues with regard totheir shown willingness to cooperate at the end of each business year. This approach sounds plausible but itwill pose many detailed questions with regard to implementation: Source: Study of the Hay Group, Bertelsmann Stiftung and Wiesbaden Business School, 2011,6
  7. 7. 7  individual opinions about the meaning of good collaboration  potentially subjective judgments that are possibly only related to a few situations and that can be characterized by the general quality of the relationship between the managers  no transparency with regard to performance measurement  „Hawks will not pick out hawks’ eyes.“3. Answer without incentives since people want to cooperate!?The human being is a cooperative being and it is fundamentally willing to cooperate outside incentivemechanisms. However, this neither happens without preconditions. The willingness to cooperate is based onthe relationships between persons. However, this relationship does not automatically arise only because twopersons are employees of the same firm. In his book „Prinzip Menschlichkeit. Warum wir von Natur auskooperieren.“ Joachim Bauer outlines five preconditions for interpersonal relationships:8 1. To see and to be seen (not only in literal sense but also in metaphorical sense) 2. Jointly focus on something third 3. Emotional feedback 4. Jointly acting 5. Reciprocal understanding of motives and intentionsHence, good relationships require investments and when studying this list it quickly becomes clear that withina big organization one can’t solely rely on natural cooperation reflexes. In the long run it doesn’t make senseto ignore these coherences and e.g. appeal to the altruism of the employees: “We created a decentralizedand strongly competitive-oriented organization, nevertheless we would like you to collaborate overall.”An exciting question surely is to what extent Web 2.0 technologies considerably simplify relationship-buildingvia electronic ways. Looking at the list above it is imaginable that points one and four are indeed positivelyinfluenced by the approach of the “humans in the focal point” and the simple usability of Social Businessplatforms.4. Answer via organizational flexibilityIf experts really should collaborate, then they also have to be brought together in the incentive logic.Collaboration happens mainly within the single units when they are small enough to motivate all employeeswith team goals in particular. Hence, many small cooperation centers emerge within the organization. Themanagement guru Fredmund Malik sees in the permanent talking about cross-department workingsymptoms of bad organizations. He concludes that if as less as possible cross-department working isnecessary, then the organization is right.9The absolute perfect organizational design is not the decisive factor. Growth and external influences such ascompetitive and market situations generate that much dynamic so that competitive advantages arise from theability to adapt the organizational design regularly. Change (which is always exhausting for an organizationand its members!) is the norm that is fundamentally accepted and lived. Hence, cooperation can be produced Joachim Bauer: Prinzip Menschlichkeit: Warum wir von Natur aus kooperieren, Heyne, 20088 Fredmund Malik: Führen, Leisten, Leben: Wirksames Management für eine neue Zeit, S. 198, Heyne, 20019
  8. 8. 8where it is needed the most. Furthermore, reorganizations ensure a better knowledge exchange andstrengthen cross-department personal networks. A third point is the promotion of cooperative behaviorsbecause who knows exactly with whom he will work cooperatively next year?Consequences for IT systemsAt first sight it seems to make sense to decree a comprehensive knowledge management tool as cooperativeelement to a decentralized organization. However, this knowledge management platform has no chancesince it totally contradicts the actual incentives to collaborate. From our experience, the most successful usecases for the use of social software within firms are closed spaces for collaboration within the team anddocumentation in enterprise wikis or social business suites. Besides other reasons such as the protectiveroom in which less extroverted employees feel more comfortable, for sure the most important reason is theappropriate incentive structure: a group in cooperative mode is on the way to the same common goal.Therefore, an optimal platform has to accomplish two fundamental tasks: 1. Support of collaboration where it is desired and needed. No enforcement to openness but deliberate distinction of a cooperative center within the system through access privileges, own navigation points or maybe even a limited individual layout etc. These functions support the so-called strong ties between persons who know each other (well).10 2. Based on the information someone reveals in the cooperative mode, a findability of the knowledge and especially the associated employee should also be created organization-wide. This supports the weak ties, that is the weak connections between persons that hardly know each other or not at all. 11 While working users leave traces which automatically yield in an aggregated skill profile. This will surely be difficult if all working rooms are closed. Hence, it is important to also have additional comprehensive discussion rooms. However, they do not automatically emerge from the work itself and therefore have to be maintained and moderated when they should last in the long run. Apart from that it is thinkable to give all employees access to certain aggregated information from closed rooms (e.g. the information that a group room exists although the user has no access to it).Social groups in the firm: Why networks fail oftenThe appearance of social tools awakened the hope that with this, networks within the firm are created,rendered visible and are promoted and that this simplifies the knowledge exchange within firms in particular.Unfortunately these expected effects did not occur. But when my diverse, distributed team jointly writes thenew detailed concept, we are actually faster and better coordinated by using social software. Where is theproblem then?Firstly we distinguish social groups within the firm: On the one hand, there is the team, the group that jointlyaccomplishes a task. The members of the team are more or less known among each other – the strong ties.On the other hand, there exists a big network, e.g. of the professional contacts for a particular topic. Parts ofthe persons are also known among and familiar with each other. However, other members of the group donot know each other or only superficial – the already mentioned weak ties in the network. Anderson and Dron Mark Granovetter: The Strength of Weak Ties. In: American Journal of Sociology 78 (1973), S. 1360–1380.10/11
  9. 9. 9discuss a third kind of interconnectedness: the collective, in the following referred to as the swarm.12 While aperson has to act and communicate within the team or network in order to be visible, a swarm emergesautomatically through the aggregation of many individuals’ actions. Figure 2 illustrates the three kinds ofinterconnectedness which are deliberately distinguished in the following because they behave differently andhence, need different work tools.Figure 2: Social groups within the firmThe team: Let’s get work done!A team or a group has the task to accomplish a concrete task. A team can be equal to an organizational unitor it can be formed for a specific topic across the organization. The members of the team are known amongeach other and every member fills a certain role within the group. A membership figure of more than 30people is critical because then the ability to establish contact among each other and the efficiency ofcollaboration decreases. This can be explained from a developmentally-historical perspective by the size of ahorde in prehistoric times.13 Still nowadays the human is able to act well in groups consisting of 20 to 30people, but it faces difficulties in seeing through larger groups and calculating individual-related (First of all,the solution here is pretty simple: Split up a team which is too big into subgroups.).The motivation of collaboration within the team is (more or less) high. Again, we distinguish between targetedand relation-oriented motivational factors: The targeted motivational factors are dependent on the goal itself.Since team members are personally known to each other, there also always exist relation-orientedmotivational factors which are the driver for collaboration.The network: The high art of collaboration Anderson und Dron: Gerhard Vollmer: Was können wir wissen? Hirzel, Stuttgart, 1988.13
  10. 10. 10A network connects persons with same interest, same experiences and similar skills or common goals.Characteristic examples for form networks are internal or cross-company interest groups, alumniassociations, industrial associations or roundtables. The structure of a network is emergent, that meanscharacteristics and contents arise only because of the connections between the participants (the whole ismore than the sum of its parts). The participants are not necessarily known to each other. An organization(e.g. through moderation, rules, defined roles or the like) is necessary for the functioning of the network andhas to be created explicitly.The goals of the single members of the network are less concrete than those of the members of a team. Thestrongest motivational factor is personal reputation. A connection to the company goal system is often notthat obvious. That’s the reason why targeted motivational factors are not working that well. The relation-oriented motivational factors are also considerably weaker since the persons partly are not known to eachother. Hence, collaboration within and functioning of a network are considerably more complicated andcomplex than for the manageable team, independent of tools and social media. Hardly any person getsinvolved in a (company) network due to intrinsic motivational factors, for the fun of networking.However, innovation potential and efficient information exchange lies exactly in the connecting of personswho are not known to each other. Granovetter calls this „the strength of the weak ties“.14 New, extraordinaryor unfamiliar things occur not by “stewing in one’s own juice”, but by exchanging ideas with other peoplefrom different environments.The swarm: The chance of social toolsA swarm automatically emerges through algorithmic aggregation of single individuals and their actions. Theterm collective is used alternatively. It is an association to the Borg from the Star Trek universe who arecharacterized by the merger of all individual knowledge. The members of a swarm are not superficially awareof the swarm itself. The number of participants has to be very large to allow for statistical statements andpredictions to make sense (the following considerations are therefore mainly thrilling for large firms but play arole for the internal collaboration of smaller firms to a lesser extent). A swarm can produce results such aselections or search preferences. Social tools can render collectives and their behavior visible very well (e.g.through profiling or social search).Motivation doesn’t play a role for the functioning of a swarm but the employment of useful tools steer theexpressiveness about a swarm. The challenge for the firm is to stay as close as possible to the workingprocess while collecting and providing the information that should be provided cross-company, ideally onone consistent platform. Maintaining five profiles on various team sites and in the central intranet simplyworks badly. Topics and contents which characterize an employee can be automatically extracted fromdifferent sources. That means that teams (and networks partly) have to be active in electronic media in orderto allow emergence of data that can be monitored. The automatic derivation of information only works wheredata emerge and are captured.Table 1 compares the three presented types of social groups within firms:14 Mark Granovetter: The Strength of Weak Ties. In: American Journal of Sociology 78 (1973), S. 1360–1380.
  11. 11. 11 Team Network Swarm Arises out of common Initiated to accomplish a Initiated to exchange work or the usage of theMotivation concrete task thoughts, for cooperation same information systemsCommitment high weaker not relevant Core group of active Clear assignment of a moderators; not all person Members are not awareIdentification of group person to the group; are necessarily aware of the of the role within themembers group members know role within and of the swarm (anonymity) each other network Loose, emergent structures; Flat, different structures According to the task,Structure no clearly defined based on statistical often hierarchical organization analyses Creation of surplus values for (success criterion for Individual motivation to members, given possibilitySuccess criteria analyses: good tools, accomplish task for reputation, willingness to consistent platform) cooperate, good moderation Team of product Community of intranetExamples in the firm Communities of practice developers for software users From 3 team members At least 100 to 200 At least 10-20 activeSize on, more than 30 persons members, the more the members critical betterTable 1: Types of social groups within the firm (based on Dron and Anderson who analyzed this for learner groups)No tool for everybody - everyone his toolWhen one understood these three different types of collaboration, it becomes clear that social softwaresupports these three groups in a very different way. It is important to understand social software not as anadditional tool with game effects, but to optimize working processes by using it. The collaboration within theteam can be designed considerable efficient by jointly maintained lists, shared calendars or jointly createdtexts (wiki). Information can be distributed faster and clearer through status updates or micro blogging. And ifthe accomplishment of a task is foregrounded, then taking part is no question. This is more difficult in thenetwork. Tools which improve collaboration are also implemented. However, the hurdle to formulate textsand to update information is high when this covers topics outside my daily work. That’s why blogs, newsletteror event calendars of a network are optimally maintained and updated by a small responsible core team.Social software which monitors the swarm helps to better understand the ways of working. Thereby electronictraces of persons and their activities within teams (and networks) analyzed. Social search, cross-companytagging or central user profiles work in this way.Table 2 summarizes the ideas and gives an overview on which tools work for which group:
  12. 12. 12 Team Network SwarmLists, e.g. to-do list X (X)Shared calendar X (X)Chat XStatus update XMicro blogging X XBlogs X XWikis X XForum X XUser directories with personal profiles X (X) XComments / Ratings X (X) XSurveys (X) (X) XTagging X XSocial search (X) XTable 2: Overview of tools per social groupConclusionWhat are the consequences for the company-collaboration? 1. Social software can indeed improve teamwork very well. Common team sites with calendars, contacts, documents and status make collaboration within a manageable group transparent and efficient. Challenges for the employment of tools are a certain standardization (e.g. through templates) and a partly transparency of the work results (for the exchange with other working areas (teams) and for the aggregation of the data for the swarm). 2. The employment of social tools such as e.g. profiling, surveys, tagging, social search etc. improve the statements that are made about user behaviors and interests (of a swarm). This is very helpful to some extent. However, we’re not collaborating better because of that. 3. The Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 wave promised the revival and the functioning of networks between persons who are hardly know to each other or not at all. Except for rendering the connections in social networks visible there hasn’t been much change in the collaboration of people who hardly know each other. (According to a current study from Forrester, even engrained social media users prefer email as first choice communication tool when contacting colleagues.)15 4. The difficulty of the functioning of a network lies in the anonymity and the lack of motivation of the networkers. Tools do not help until there are incentives for communication within the network. However, this incentive system is exactly the real challenge for cross-network collaboration. 5. In functioning networks lies a part of the success for the innovational strength of firms. The following approaches support the motivation for network work: o Creation of surplus values (the news about the software release are firstly and most detailled published in the network of the developer community) o Strengthen of the weak ties and building of a personal relation-level between persons (by using real events and direct communication), creation of teams within networks.
  13. 13. 13The four barriers of collaboration – How to measure and remove them„…poor collaboration is worse than no collaboration at all.” Morten T. Hansen16Since collaboration is commonly considered as the formula for success, it is worth to analyze this statementin more detail:Disciplined collaborationFirms which not manage to successfully collaborate, such as e.g. Sony in the above mentioned example fromthe music industry often walk right into collaboration traps. These traps include amongst others collaborationin hostile environments. Examples for this are firms who are not designed for collaboration because theirorganizational structure promotes competition between single, decentralized units. Additionally, theunderestimation of collaboration costs such as the coordination of employees across departments or theresolution of conflicts count among the collaboration traps. Sad but true, even if a firm is aware of problemsor barriers in its collaboration it can walk right into the trap when it identifies the wrong barriers or solutionprocesses. To avoid these traps (and hence bad collaboration) and to enable successful collaborationHansen sees one way: disciplined collaboration! Disciplined collaboration consists of three steps (see Figure3): Evaluate Tailor Spot barriers to opportunities for collaboration collaboration collaboration solutionsFigure 3: The three steps of disciplined collaboration (Source: Hansen)Evaluation of collaboration opportunities firstly includes the assessment of how collaboration can improve thefirm performance on different levels. By doing this the goals which shall be reached with collaboration aredefined. According to Hansen, the first step of disciplined collaboration furthermore is about finding potentialcollaboration fields and defining decision rules on whether collaboration at the project level should bepushed further or not. This can happen for example by using a collaboration matrix.The four barriers of collaborationHansen identifies four collaboration barriers which stand in the way of successful collaboration:1. Not-invented-here barrierThis barrier originates from the lacking willingness of employees to accept help from outside their team orbusiness unit or to learn from other units. The reasons behind this behavior are diverse and understandablefrom a human perspective. Whether it is the fear of showing own weaknesses because one is not capable ofdoing something or it is the attitude that one has to take care of its own problems. They lead to the above16 Morten Hansen: Collaboration, Harvard Business Review Press, 2009
  14. 14. 14mentioned lacking willingness of employees to accept help from employees of other units as well as thetimidity to cross status or hierarchy boundaries or an insular culture in which one communicates only withinthe own group.2. Hoarding barrierThe hoarding barrier is quasi the obverse of the not-invented-here barrier: employees are not willing to helpother colleagues and to share their knowledge. Amongst narrow specified targets and a lack of time, thisbehavior is mainly based on existing competition between employees and units as well as the fear of makingoneself expendable when sharing one’s knowledge.The not-invented-here barrier and the hoarding barrier touch the “willing to” dimension of human action andhence are subject to motivational factors. The two following barriers search and transfer barrier howeverconcern the “able to”.3. Search barrierFirms often mention their pain about the fallow potential, which could be reaped by the firm “if it only knewwhat it knows”. This pain exactly reflects the search barrier. Employees who are looking for information orcontact persons can find them only with difficulty. The reasons for this could be the firm size, the specialdistance, an information overload or the lack of network connections (in the sense of “I know somebody, whohas already dealt with this issue”).4. Transfer barrierAs the name of this barrier lets assume, it addresses the difficulties in transferring knowledge. One root forthis is inherent to knowledge itself: knowledge is implicit and hence it’s difficult to share and pass on. But thelack of a common framework, a common language and hence a common approach to collaborate and shareknowledge also adds to the transfer barrier as well as weak ties between colleagues.Measuring the barriers of collaborationIn theory, all this sounds quite understandable and logical. However, to what extent do these four barrierswithin firms really exist and what’s more, how does one identify and measure them? In his book, Hansenprovides a tool for that: a survey to evaluate the extent of existence of the four barriers as well as a benchmarkof 107 firms against which one can match the own results. There are three statements for each of the fourbarriers (e.g. the not-invented-here barrier: When faced with problems, employees in our unit strive to solvethem by themselves without asking for help from outsiders.), which need to be evaluated on a scale of 1 (donot agree) to 100 (totally agree). Altogether there are twelve statements in the style of the above mentionedexample statement that needs to be evaluated. The T-Systems MMS has tested how well this measurementmethod works in reality and what insight into the collaboration maturity of a firm can be gained by using it.In the course of the strategy development within the T-Systems MMS managers of all levels were asked toanswer the survey proposed by Hansen. Even if not all potential participants participated, as it is common forvoluntary surveys, it was more than half in this case. That makes the results even more valuable. Of course,one has to consider survey results always carefully since they are never objective completely, but always
  15. 15. 15affected by the subjective cognition of the respondent. However, this doesn’t change the fact that they are afirst, serious starting point for measuring collaboration barriers within the firm. For demonstration purposeswe take the not-invented-here barrier and have a look on how the measurement of this barrier can look like(slightly changed and anonymized): Barrier a problem Barrier might cause some problems Barrier might cause problems Barrier not a problemFigure 4: Measurement of not-invented-here barrierFigure 4 shows the measurement of the not-invented-here barrier on different management levels and units.When interpreting this graphic, one gains the following insights:  Basically, the not-invented-here barrier is rather no problem at the T-Systems MMS.  Particularly, management level 2 does not see this barrier  whereas management level 1 rather seems to be facing this barrier.At first sight, this might sound trivial. However, one can get a quite detailed picture of the existingcollaboration barriers at different places within the firm and some sort of collaboration maturity level whichshows where the firm stands today,  if one assumes a vertical organizational structure, such as e.g. from very close to operational business to strategic leadership
  16. 16. 16  or a horizontal organization structure, such as e.g. from HR department via development through to sales behind the different managements from the graphic  and additionally matches the analyses of the other collaboration barriers.And that is, according to our opinion, one of the best arguments for the approach of Hansen: thecollaboration maturity level within the firm becomes quantifiable and hence above all comparable bymeasuring the collaboration barriers! No matter which strategies or solution processes one chooses toremove the collaboration barriers – if one repeats the survey one or two years later, one can measure thesuccess (or failure) or these measures.Removal of the barriers of collaborationIn his work, Hansen defines three strategies to remove collaboration barriers:1. UnificationOn the one hand, it is part of this strategy to set common, unifying goals. Quasi, to set a common “over-goal”which unifies employees and motivates them to collaborate to achieve the goal. On the other hand it is part ofunification to place value on teamwork and to preach this attitude.2. T-shaped managementThe T-shaped management focuses on the goal and performance achievement of the management. A T-shaped manager is good in both, achieving results in his job and his line (equal to the vertical bar of the T) aswell as through across department collaboration (equal to the horizontal bar of the T). Neither the one nor theother is bad or disadvantageous taken by itself because there are top-performers in both categories that onewouldn’t want to miss. However, to remove collaboration barriers it might be a promising strategy tospecifically promote leaders who are capable of both and have both perspectives in mind.3. Nimble networksIt is content of this strategy to specifically promote the formation of networks and contacts. Thereby, it isamongst others not only a “more is better”, but also to connect the appropriate, as diverse as possible,persons as well as to promote the so-called weak ties and to transform them, if the projects demands it, intostrong ties.Not every solution strategy is suited for removing every collaboration barrier. A precise analysis of the barrierand a tailor-made solution is rather needed. Hansen provides the following matrix (slightly added) asguidance:
  17. 17. 17Figure 5: Collaboration matrixIntroduction of a social business solution and the approach of HansenWithin the framework of the implementation of a Social Intranet or Collaboration platform, the approach ofHansen can play an important role at three stages:1. Removal of the search and transfer barrierFrom the barrier-solution process-matrix (see figure) it becomes clear that in particular both “be able”-barrierscan be removed by the building of networks and the promotion of contacts – hence, employees can beenabled to collaborate. Within a social business solution a transparent knowledge and expert networkemerges through (technical) support of social tools, profiles, tagging of contents and profiles and particularlythrough the linkage of contents and persons. This knowledge and expert network exactly reduces the searchand transfer barrier.2. Change ManagementThe motivational barriers not-invented-here and hoarding are the barriers that can be directly tackled bychange management measures. As already made clear above, the organizational design and the incentivesystem play an important role for collaboration within firms. Following Hansen’s barrier – solution process –matrix, unification and T-shaped management are the strategies to remove the motivational barriers. Thisexactly can be transferred to the implementation of a Social Intranet: the successful implementation of aSocial Intranet can and will be working in the long-term only if the principles laying underneath the workingwith social tools are anchored within the corporate culture. Amongst others, this includes a vision that isunderstandable for everyone (a common “over-goal”), an adaptation of target agreements and a targetedpromotion of leaders who understand which benefits can be gained through collaboration and the usage ofsocial tools and how the processes within the firm can be improved as a result. If one uses the approach ofHansen when implementing a Social Intranet or Collaboration Platform in change management, then one hasa targeted approach with a clearly defined strategy objective: There are four collaboration barriers, removethem by deploying technology and the appropriate adaptation of the organization!
  18. 18. 183. Make changes measurableIt has been often mentioned by many and is not new at that point that the majority of work lies in the changeprocess and not in the technology when implementing a Social Business Solution. However, it would be newto use the approach of Hansen to measure the change. A popular model used in the change management isthe self-assessment in accord with the EFQM Excellence Model17. For the one or the other this model mightbe too powerful. In this case the approach from Hansen puts itself forward as a, nowhere near extensive,alternative. If one measures the collaboration maturity level on the basis of the collaboration barriers at thebeginning of the implementation of a Social Intranet or Collaboration Platform and repeats it after a certainamount of time, then one can a.) show the state of change and b.) provide evidence for the benefits of theSocial Intranet implementation (namely hopefully a decline in the collaboration barriers). When having aholistic and co-ordinated approach which includes the implementation of the software as well as theappropriate change management, this measurement does not only refer to the under point 1 mentionedbarriers, but also to both motivational barriers not-invented-here and hoarding. Hence, in the end, one has aconsistent approach to monitor the change process of the implementation of a Social Business Solution.ConclusionThe current discussion about Enterprise 2.0 is obsessed with the disclosure of the weak ties within firms.Almost the entire value added and innovation arise from existing teams which have to work with each other inan optimal way. Therefore, a collaborative platform has to focus on the strong ties because there lie theincentives for collaboration. Not until then can be spoken of the disclosure of the weak ties in a next evolutionstep. An inversion of this prioritization is doomed to failure. The willingness to cooperate is a personal attitudewhich can be fostered through the design of the environment. Here, tools run into their limits. Collaborationcan be shaped more efficient through tools only where collaboration works anyway. Approaches like theHansen model help to analyze and overcome collaboration challenges with a blend of organizational andtechnical solutions. Both “be able”-barriers (search and transfer) can be removed by the building of networksand the promotion of contacts – a transparent knowledge and expert network emerges through (thetechnical) support of social platforms. The motivational barriers not-invented-here and hoarding are thebarriers that can be directly tackled by change management measures.