Over the last 3 years I have been involved in numerous experiments with enterprise 2.0 tools, some have been successful and some not so. Out of these experiments has come a realisation that a prerequisite of success is to ensure you create the right environment for collaboration to flourish. I haven come to think of these as a set of principles that define the core architecture of collaboration. These principles apply equally to the technology and the culture. It is my experience that adoption of these principles is required if a culture of collaboration and openness is to develop. The four core principles are:
- Freedom - The easiest way to prevent collaboration from occurring is to impose overly burdensome control around how colleagues work. If collaboration is to flourish we need to trust colleagues and not impose rigid workflows, inappropriate approval processes (moderation), restriction on who can collaborate with whom (association) and have an open attitude towards sharing information.
- Emergence - No two collaborations are the same, each team/group will have different requirements and will develop different working practices. Given this then we need to allow patterns and structures to emerge as collaborations develop. This is not to say we should not stimulate behaviors we want or share experiences but rather we should accept this and recognise that we need to avoid a 'One size fits all' approach.
- Clarity of Purpose - Contextualising tools for colleagues work processes is critical. Without a clear explination as to how and when to use new tools colleagues become confused and revert back to there default methods of working. The lack of consistent advice around how and when to use these tools inevitably leads to adoption of Outlook for information management, fragmented silos of project data and a lack of any real knowledge management processes.
- Ease of Use - Collaboration is about enabling conversations between people. It is not about technology. Therefore, it is critical that technology does not get in the way of collaboration. If we are to enable a culture of collaboration we must ensure that colleagues find the tools are intuitive and require minimal training.