Collaboration Collaboration is not a technology; it is a behavior.  To be precise, Collaboration is the process where two or more people, or organizations, work together to realize a shared goal ~ a pretty straight forward definition, right?  So, why do I bother to define it?

I make the distinction because the word “collaboration” is quickly becoming the most over used marketing term in the commercial audio visual industry.  And, in my opinion, its overuse is resulting in misunderstandings, disappointments and frustrations.

If you pay close attention to the current advertisements, you will notice that the term “collaboration” is used for marketing everything from iPad Apps to interactive whiteboards to videoconferencing products.  The messages imply that should you purchase the advertised widget your organization will immediately become more collaborative ~ reaping the benefits of improved communication, reduced decision time and lower operating costs ~ making your organization more competitive.

However, in truth, these technologies only offer the “potential” to improve collaboration.  Ultimately, it is up to the users and their organizations to unlock that potential and enable the power and competitive advantage of collaboration.

Sound familiar?  We have all had this experience at one point or another.  Where we buy some new gadget that is supposed to make things so much easier, only to realize later that we now have to figure out how to use it! Collaborative technologies are no different; installing the newest solution in your office will not, in and of itself, make your organization more collaborative.  In order to be successful in building a more collaborative work environment, these devices must be coupled with an organizational change in behavior.

Allow me to elaborate; a few days ago, I received a call from a customer that was disappointed with a product they had recently purchased with the intent of making their company more collaborative.  In this case, the product was an interactive whiteboard, but it could have been any number of group communication technologies.

The caller was troubled; he stated that during the demonstration, the product had been so engaging and seemed to offer the potential to transform their company’s meetings and client presentations.  Except that, so far, he and his staff were only frustrated and disappointed because nothing had really changed in their performance.  He was wondering if he had made a mistake and was concerned that, in his excitement, he had misunderstood how this new technology could impact his business.  The problem seemed to be that, although, his staff easily understood how the technology worked; frustration arose when they tried to simply insert this new collaboration tool into an existing meeting process ~ expecting an improved outcome.

The reality is this, each organization needs to not only assess which collaborative technology offers the most potential for their circumstances, but, likewise, thought needs to be given to how the new technology should be incorporated into their operational environment.  In the case of my customer, this meant rethinking how they interact in company meetings and how they engage with their clients.

Only recently, has the audio visual industry, and customers alike, begun to recognize the importance of Professional Development, in concert with Change Management, to ensure an organization’s long term successful deployment of new collaboration technologies.

To this end, The Chariot Group has expanded its Professional Development and Change Management offerings to include additional services designed to assist customers in adapting their presentation skills and client engagement methodologies.  So, don’t give up hope, get rid of that frustration ~ help is available!

Related Post: Collaborating in the Virtual Workspace…

  6 Responses to “Collaboration: What is it?”

  1. Right on, Rick. Collaboration technology products are just one part of the solution. People and processes are the other two parts. All three are required to achieve true change. And when all three are working well together, amazing things happen.

  2. Your post is so spot on. In my previous experience working in high tech our company would buy all this top of the line equipment to use in the conference rooms thinking the equipment was going to improve some performance. You still need to initiate change to expect results. If your culture does not communicate well, the equipment is not going to solve the problem.

  3. Nice article Rick! Love the name of your blog! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

    • Pam, Thank you for the positive feedback on both the Post and the blog name. We had a great time writing the definition of Unknownium. I appreciate you taking the time to read the post and make a comment.

      Merry Christmas to you too!

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