In all our commentary we repeatedly make the case that enterprises need to approach collaboration holistically. Effective collaborations must cross functional and company boundaries to include all the right people. They must challenge and inspire the teams to invent new approaches. And they must encompass more than the team assignments and the tools. In short, they must address what we call the Four Ps of Collaboration.
- Purpose. What is the collaboration effort trying to achieve? How should the team measure success? How will they know when they are done, and when it is time to pop the champagne corks? Make sure your collaboration effort is more than a set of meetings and activities, and has a clearly-defined purpose.
- People. Who needs to be on the team, and in what roles? Which departments or functions need to be represented? Which suppliers, partners, or customers need to have a voice? What types of skills does the team need to be effective -- to look at the problem from the right perspectives and to develop buy-in around the solution? Avoid picking the people who are most convenient or who have worked together on a recent project, and instead think about who is needed for this project. Go beyond the usual limitations of time zones, email access, international travel, and sharing of proprietary data -- and instead think of who is needed to do the best job.
- Processes. What is the overall process to define the problem, analyze the current situation, gather data, analyze options, and gain input and support from other people? What are the necessary behaviors among the team members and interacting with others to get to the best solution. Some collaboration projects need to be relatively closed to protect secrecy, and others deserve to be out in the open. Some need to be streamlined to find the best solution fast (think of the crisis on the Apollo 13 space flight), and others require a slower pace to arrive at the best solution. Some need to be driven from the top-down to fix a particular solution, while others are better to be bottom-up to create new and workable solutions.
- Place. How will the team conduct their interactions? What is the mix of face-to-face meetings versus virtual teams? What is the mix of real-time meetings (physical, phone, or web) versus non-real-time interactions (message boards, wikis, email exchanges, etc.)? How might the mix of interactions or "place" change over the course of the collaboration project -- perhaps kicking off with more direct contact, separating into more virtual interactions, then coming back together with direct contact to converge on the solution? Collaboration tools can be effective to help a team work together, but only in the broader contect of "place" and how the team members will interact.
There are many ways to drive effective collaboration. At the same time, explicitly agreeing on the Four Ps of what is best for each situation helps ensure an integrated and holistic approach, as well as helps align all the people on the team.
See Related Posts:
- The 4Ps of Effective Collaboration - Redux
- You Have Been Asked to Run a Complex Collaboration Project... Now What?
- Assessing the State of Collaboration: Return to Essentials
- Managing Complexity in Collaboration Demands Rigor
- How’s your collaboration effort going?
- Articulate the Purpose of Your Collaboration Effort!
- Current Practices in Virtual Team Management
- Collaboration Is More than Team Building and Management
- Managing Virtual Teams
- The What and Why of Enterprise 2.0