Today's guest post provided by:
Fauscette, GVP, Software Business
Creating a Culture of Collaboration
In almost every business journal you read or business conference you attend, there will be some discussion around the need to build a collaborative business. I guess it’s not surprising really; it’s the realization and changing expectations that employees are bringing into the workplace from their personal experiences on the social Web. It ties directly to the “hot topic” of consumerization of IT that’s been discussed to death over the last five years or so.
It would be hard to argue that collaboration is a bad thing, so many companies are throwing the word around a lot, but what does it really mean to be a collaborative enterprise?
The definition of collaboration, I think, has shifted over the last 5 years. This shift, to me, is a good thing, and is starting to be reflected in a new generation of collaboration tools that are now available. In the past, collaboration often was tied to file management and file sharing more than anything, which was unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, managing files is important, but it is not collaboration. In fact, many of the old “collaboration” systems were the opposite of collaborative, as they really tracked documents and document versions, and restricted the open sharing of information.
The new definition of collaboration is focused on people-centric collaboration. Many of you are probably laughing at me now; I mean, shouldn’t collaboration always have been about connecting people to people? Absolutely. But think about the technology that was offered under the umbrella of collaboration. Did it help people connect?
Collaboration is about more than technology, of course — it’s really about business culture. So how do you build a collaborative culture? Here are a few things a business can do to start the change ball rolling:
- Ensure that executives set the tone and lead by participating in collaborative efforts. “Do what you say and say what you do.”
- Incentives and rewards must be aligned to support collaboration, not individual achievement. You will get the behavior you incent.
- “What’s in it for me?” If you want participation, you must show employees what they’ll get out of expending the effort and learning new tools, or they won’t support and adopt the changes.
- Technology is important as a facilitator of the culture shift, and that technology needs to provide the ability to connect people to people, data, information, and to other systems. The technology enables the company to deploy an enterprise social network, and provides the benefits to the company and to the employees that they get from being connected and operating in a more open, engaged environment.
- Change is hard, and to be effective, you should approach this like any project. Use employee champions to drive use and engagement; train employees on new tools; put important company information into the new tool exclusively so employees get used to using it; and demonstrate that collaboration is rewarded over individual achievement.
With the right executive focus, the right incentives, the right tools, and a real effort to encourage knowledge-sharing over knowledge-hording, a business can become a collaborative enterprise. Collaborative businesses leverage all their resources more effectively; they use the collective knowledge of customers, employees, and partners to gain competitive advantage. And they make more effective business decisions that leverage facts over myths. It’s not an easy transition, but the journey is well worth it.
To hear more with featured guest speaker, Michael
Fauscette, GVP, Software Business
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