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The Dangers of Pushing Collaboration Too Far

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The Dangers of Pushing Collaboration Too Far

  1. 1. The Dangers of Pushing Collaboration Too Far Michael Sampson
  2. 2. About Michael • Collaboration Strategist – Author – Workshop Leader – Analyst • Work with end-user organisations • Making Collaboration Work – Culture – Governance – Adoption
  3. 3. none all
  4. 4. none all ideal band
  5. 5. Pushing Too Far … 1 Collaboration is not a silver bullet 2 Culture constrains collaboration 3 Personality impacts collaboration
  6. 6. 1 Collaboration is not a silver bullet
  7. 7. People have been collaborating for all of human history.
  8. 8. 1 Micro-task collaboration can stifle initiative and breakthrough thinking
  9. 9. project task autonomy meaning low purpose contribution
  10. 10. 1 The current emphasis on finding experts could signal poor job design
  11. 11. Our intranet allows us to find experts.
  12. 12. Our intranet allows us to find experts. But that could mean: Our staff are undertrained. We have hired the wrong people. Our knowledge management system is broken. There are unclear expectations about job roles. People aren’t willing to make decisions.
  13. 13. 1 Adding more people increases communication demands (and decreases time available for working)
  14. 14. Frederick Brooks (1975) The Mythical Man-Month number of people n(n-1) =y 2 channels of communication
  15. 15. Frederick Brooks (1975) The Mythical Man-Month number of people 5(5-1) = 10 2 channels of communication
  16. 16. Frederick Brooks (1975) The Mythical Man-Month number of people 40(40-1) = 780 2 channels of communication
  17. 17. 1 While crowds may have wisdom, they can also stimulate madness
  18. 18. Tapping the wisdom of the crowd But “following the crowd” isn’t always positive: Financial crises Investment bubbles, e.g., housing, Internet Riots Groupthink
  19. 19. 1 Summary Collaboration is an old idea.
  20. 20. 1 Summary It’s not a silver bullet. Be intentional about its use.
  21. 21. 1 Danger No appetite for collaboration when it’s really needed.
  22. 22. 2 Culture constrains collaboration
  23. 23. 2 If the culture isn’t collaborative, new technology won’t help
  24. 24. Groupware will .... not mysteriously transform organizations from collections of highly competitive loners to well integrated, cooperative groups of collaborators. Without careful planning for its introduction and the changes that this will entail, the impact of groupware will likely be quite limited. Successful groupware implementation will require both a careful assessment of the fit of the technology to the organization and a well designed training program to introduce this new technology and its potential to the organization members.
  25. 25. Powerful VP in a discussion forum “I think that’s a dumb idea.” More broadly: “You aren’t paid to think.”
  26. 26. 2 “Collaboration” will be different for different organisations
  27. 27. Sharing not-fully-formed ideas Openness to the ideas of others Shared exploration of decisions Shared risk and reward
  28. 28. Apple “We want excellent products. There is no problem with shredding someone in pursuit of excellent ideas.”
  29. 29. Pixar Specially designed building—to create chance encounters and serendipitous meetings. And cross-training (common language)
  30. 30. 2 A culture that values efficiency above all else will be poor at collaboration
  31. 31. in-person online comprehension trust low cost social capital
  32. 32. The Complex Project
  33. 33. Apollo vs. Challenger
  34. 34. You need to find the right balance. Getting on a plane may be the best idea.
  35. 35. 2 Summary Start with culture, not technology.
  36. 36. 2 Summary If your culture is anti-collaborative, you have (lots of) work to do
  37. 37. 2 Danger New collaboration tools will reinforce the cynicism
  38. 38. 3 Personality impact collaboration
  39. 39. extroverts introverts people energy ideas high stress low talk method write loud noise quiet 75% number 25%
  40. 40. Introverts can be your MVEs (most valuable employees) 10x to 50x better than the “average”
  41. 41. 3 Introverts need quietness and freedom from distractions
  42. 42. Can’t concentrate and do their best work E.g., may not want Yammer running continually
  43. 43. 3 Without trust and integrity, introverts won’t give their best ideas
  44. 44. Will want time to contemplate. Don’t want to give a heated answer.
  45. 45. E.g., they may not want to get into a shouting match at a meeting
  46. 46. 3 Introverts need space for creativity, deep thinking, and high performance
  47. 47. E.g., they may not want to put the document into Interact Teams yet
  48. 48. E.g., they may not want to “work out loud” on Yammer
  49. 49. 3 Summary Personality impacts collaboration.
  50. 50. 3 Summary Find an introvert at your work. Learn how they collaborate best.
  51. 51. 3 Danger Decreasing performance by demanding collaboration
  52. 52. Closing Thoughts
  53. 53. Collaboration provides a significant opportunity for improving performance
  54. 54. But remember that … 1 Collaboration is not a silver bullet 2 Culture constrains collaboration 3 Personality impacts collaboration
  55. 55. Michael Sampson @collabguy michaelsampson.net

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