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Whitepaper - Building a collaboration beehive

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A guide to effective collaboration within your enterprise.

A guide to effective collaboration within your enterprise.

Published in Technology , Business
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  • 1. A Co l lab o r Whitepaper A Collaboration Beehive A guide to effective collaboration within your enterprise Nov 1, 2008 Sandeep M. Kaujalgi, Chairman & CEO1|P a g e www.collabor.com info@collabor.com A Collabor Whitepaper | Collaborative Innovation
  • 2. Executive Summary A Collaboration BeehiveCompanies have long worried, wondered and frustrated Think of a beehive. Agreed that the goals of a beehive arethemselves over innovation. Innovation is the engine that different from a company, but please indulge me a bit.drives commerce, & collaboration is the engine that drivesinnovation. There is a queen bee (think CEO and management team) that sets direction and specific goals. The clearer theAs companies get bigger, their ability to continuously goals the better the chances of success. There are ainnovate seems to reduce in direct proportion to their number of drone bees (specialist) and a number of workergrowth in size. This is indeed, a Catch 22 situation which bees (generalists).leads to companies becoming the victims of their ownsuccess. We see this happening everywhere – whether wetake the examples of Yahoo, Google and Linux threateningMicrosoft in the Email, Office or OS area; or we look at thelow-cost airlines threatening the more traditional airlinesor as we saw in the hospitality industry with budgetminded hotels and service apartments take on the “citycenter” fancy 5-star hotels.Innovation seems to be the business of upstarts andstartups. A company’s ability to keep on innovatingdetermines their ability to “stay ahead of thecompetition”. In many cases, the competition is an upstartcompany or business model, and what may seem a Not only do the bees have specific goals and objectivesdiversion to large companies when competing with an and are probably measured against them, they alsoupstart – can be significant in how the company grows in communicate with each other about the state of thethe future. beehive (reports, status), the resources outside the beehive (sales, marketing planning), they have to keepSo, why is it so tough to innovate? Well the answer lies in finding new ways to achieve their goals (innovation), theyhow large companies collaborate. Firstly, it is easier to plan moves to new sites (expansion) and keep the hivecollaborate when there are 2 or 5 or 10 decision makers, clean (governance). Some of them are also tasked withas in startups. But as companies grow, in size, across taking care of young bees (education and training)geographies, there are a significant number (hundreds) ofpeople involved who all have their own view of how things All of this is achieved because bees constantlyshould be done. This considerably slows down what used communicate about their work, the environment thatto be a very smooth and simple process, when the surrounds them and the resources available to achievecompany was smaller. them. They do not duplicate effort, they do not spend time after diversions, they focus on the key task at hand andIn this whitepaper, we focus on the ability for large accomplish them as per their individual goals andcompanies to turn their size to their advantage. We focus objectives. In essence, they Collaborate. And veryon how to create an effective collaboration model. A effectively.collaboration model that thrives on inputs from across the It would be easy to say that we should emulate a beehive.company, across geographies, languages, departments That would be oversimplification of a serious problem.and divisions and up and down the hierarchy. A But, we can learn from a beehive, as far as collaboratingcollaboration model that is constantly buzzing. and communicating with the enterprise are concerned. And we will innovate betterA collaboration beehive2|P a g e A Collabor Whitepaper | A Collaboration Beehive
  • 3. Building a Collaboration Beehive 4. Breakdown Organizational HierarchiesTo collaborate successfully, it is important to consider the In any company, everybody has ideas that can benefit–following 10 items: however small or large their impact. This could be a truck driver in the distribution division who may offer more effective route layouts or a young employee who may offer ideas on using social networking tools like Facebook or Myspace. We see no reason for collaboration initiatives to be “restricted” by how high up in the ladder somebody is. Collaboration is a right, not a privilege. 5. Pick a good software platform I once worked in a company, where the CEO had an Ideas contest every August. What this involved was for middle managers to “force” their teams to submit ideas to make the company better. The CEO and top management would then choose the best ideas and they would reward the employee who proposed it. And then all was silent till the next Ideas Contest.1. Have clear goals and objectives.Do not collaborate just because it is fun that will soon lead While Idea contests are okay, these are a drain on theto all collaboration initiatives to deteriorate into “time administrative bandwidth of middle management who arewasters”. now busy trying to please the CEO and not doing their jobs. Also, people don’t come up with ideas necessarily in2. Collaborate with a purpose the month of August. And when they are forced to – guessGeneric reasons to collaborate include – Increasing what the quality of those ideas is like.Productivity, Increase Knowledge Sharing, FasterInnovation and Cost Saving. In addition there are many There is a better way. Use a platform. There are manyother Specific reasons to collaborate – whether it is for software applications that offer collaboration andR&D for new product development or HR on new hire community features. Pick one and implement it.management, or Green Initiatives like Car Pooling andRecycling. Of course, we’d rather you picked our platform. WORK 2.0. Look for more info on Work 2.0 at www.collabor.com3. Breakdown organizational walls.It achieves no purpose to keep collaboration within 6. Engage and Rewarddepartments and/or divisions. A lot of companies do that, Once you implement a platform, use it to communicatebut that is not how collaboration happens. It happens, and collaborate. It creates a virtual meeting place wherewhen new voices are allowed access to departmental employees can gather around and network. Make it multi-initiatives, new ideas are introduced and debated and new media with Videos and Audio and Written word, to makeexperiences are shared. it easy for everybody to learn and belong. And reward the usage of the platform with points or rewards – a frequente.g. think of a scenario where Marketing and Sales benefit flyer program for employee, if you will.in their plan to enter a new country (say, Sweden),because somebody who grew up in Sweden and works in And a good platform, will give the CEO and topHR, opens up her experience and network to them. management an opportunity to communicate their thoughts regularly with employees, get direct feedback and actionable data.3|P a g e A Collabor Whitepaper | A Collaboration Beehive
  • 4. 7. Avoid too many applications.A disparate cobbling together of applications (opensourceor otherwise) that all seem to offer “Collaboration” or“Community” features may seem good in the short run.But it often leads to low adoption by users.It also leads to an inherent administrative problem. Firstly,meaningful behavior modeling data is not easily available,since you cannot really compare information within 100posts on a blog application with 250 threads in a forumapplication. Secondly, each of these systems need to beadministered individually creating a administrationoverhead not earlier envisaged.When choosing commercial software, make sure you arenot creating a disruption in your existing technology stack.A new collaboration application should not recreate yourcontent management system, your documentmanagement system, your knowledge repository, yourintranet and portals, etc etc. It should not stand alone as aseparate application, which leads to low adoption and“one more” thing to do.A new collaboration application should work with yourcurrent technology stack, integrating existingapplications into the collaboration framework8. Code of ConductIt is important to establish right up front, what the newapplication can be used for and what it cannot be used for.It is also important to make sure that this is not a platformfor complaining about work or specific people or todiscuss politics or to post about “your cat having givenbirth to a litter”.9. Have FunIntroduce items which keep drawing your audience to thesystem – like Polls, Surveys, Loyalty Programs, etc. While“fun” for average user these could provide actionableintelligence.10. Track and AnalyzeLike any good management decision, track the usage ofyour collaboration application with vigor and rigor.Analyze adoption, track frequent contributors, trackviews, comments. Use this information to see ifemployees are collaborating on the corporate goals andtake corrective action to enhance desired behavior.4|P a g e A Collabor Whitepaper | A Collaboration Beehive
  • 5. About Collabor ContactCollabor is a technology company focused on buildingsoftware products to improve collaboration, innovation, Americasproductivity and knowledge sharing in enterprises One Apple Hill Drive, Suite 316 Natick, MA 01760. USAAbout Work 2.0 AsiaPacificCollabor’s first product is Work 2.0, a software platform # 32, Street No 2 Sagar Societythat allows enterprises to better collaborate in their Off Banjara Hills Rd No 2Information and knowledge chain, but building online Hyderabad, AP 500034. INDIAcommunities. Online www.collabor.com info@collabor.com Copyrights Copyright ©2008 Collabor, Inc. All rights reserved. Work 2.0 is a registered trademark of Collabor, Inc. Collabor, Inc. owns other registered and unregistered trademarks. Other names used herein may be trademarks of their respective ownersThese communities can be internal focused arounddepartments or divisions or initiatives. OR, thesecommunities can be external to include customers orsuppliers and other stakeholders.Online communities take portals and the intranet to thenext level. Online communities bring in interactive tools,user generated applications and user generated content.Online communities also allow the company and users toupload a variety of media including: documents,spreadsheets, videos, audio/pod, presentations andcollaborate over them.Online communities allow real time messaging and groupdiscussions over company initiatives.Collabor allows companies to embrace social networking“for a purpose” with its Work 2.0 software product.5|P a g e A Collabor Whitepaper | A Collaboration Beehive