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The Dangers of Pushing Collaboration Too Far


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Presentation at Interactions 2012 in London, on collaboration.

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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. 1Collaboration is not a silver bullet
  7. 7. People have been collaborating for all of human history.
  8. 8. 1 Micro-task collaboration can stifleinitiative and breakthrough thinking
  9. 9. project task autonomy meaning low purpose contribution
  10. 10. 1 The current emphasis on findingexperts could signal poor job design
  11. 11. Our intranet allowsus 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. 1Adding more people increases communication demands(and decreases time available for working)
  14. 14. Frederick Brooks (1975) The Mythical Man-Monthnumber of people n(n-1) =y 2 channels of communication
  15. 15. Frederick Brooks (1975) The Mythical Man-Monthnumber of people 5(5-1) = 10 2 channels of communication
  16. 16. Frederick Brooks (1975) The Mythical Man-Monthnumber of people 40(40-1) = 780 2 channels of communication
  17. 17. 1While crowds may have wisdom,they can also stimulate madness
  18. 18. Tapping the wisdom of the crowdBut “following the crowd” isn’t always positive: Financial crises Investment bubbles, e.g., housing, Internet Riots Groupthink
  19. 19. 1 SummaryCollaboration is an old idea.
  20. 20. 1 Summary It’s not a silver bullet.Be intentional about its use.
  21. 21. 1 DangerNo appetite for collaboration when it’s really needed.
  22. 22. 2Culture constrains collaboration
  23. 23. 2If the culture isn’t collaborative, new technology won’t help
  24. 24. Groupware will .... not mysteriously transformorganizations from collections of highlycompetitive loners to well integrated,cooperative groups of collaborators. Withoutcareful planning for its introduction and thechanges that this will entail, the impact ofgroupware will likely be quite limited. Successfulgroupware implementation will require both acareful assessment of the fit of the technologyto the organization and a well designed trainingprogram to introduce this new technology andits 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 ideasOpenness to the ideas of othersShared exploration of decisionsShared risk and reward
  28. 28. Apple “We want excellent products. There isno problem with shredding someone in pursuit of excellent ideas.”
  29. 29. PixarSpecially designed building—to create chance encounters and serendipitous meetings. And cross-training (common language)
  30. 30. 2A 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 SummaryStart with culture, not technology.
  36. 36. 2 SummaryIf your culture is anti-collaborative, you have (lots of) work to do
  37. 37. 2 DangerNew collaboration tools will reinforce the cynicism
  38. 38. 3Personality 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. 3Introverts need quietness and freedom from distractions
  42. 42. Can’t concentrate and do their best workE.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 thedocument into Interact Teams yet
  48. 48. E.g., they may not want to“work out loud” on Yammer
  49. 49. 3 SummaryPersonality impacts collaboration.
  50. 50. 3 Summary Find an introvert at your work.Learn how they collaborate best.
  51. 51. 3 DangerDecreasing performance by demanding collaboration
  52. 52. Closing Thoughts
  53. 53. Collaboration provides a significant opportunityfor 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