What does collaboration mean? According to Merriam Webster, ďto work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.Ē It has the same meaning both in-person and on the web. Whatís different is the ways in which people collaborate.
There are so many options whether you want to engage your colleagues or customers. Of course thereís always the boardroom at least for the office staff. But online, you can collaborate through forums such as Huddler provides as on www.bestdestinationwedding.com, or through platforms such as BrightIdea, and Spigit. Those are great for collaborating with customers and co-workers. So, to is ConnectSolutionsĎ platform. Yammer is also a great Twitter-like office tool for collaboration. Some prefer meeting through video conferencing. The options there are endless! From Skype to Cisco Webex and thereís even newcomer Fusebox, which has a mobile HD video collaboration solution.
Is your mind ready to explode yet? If not, thereís always the Salesforce.com suite of collaboration tools, including Chatter, for internal collaboration.
I assume you get the idea that thereís almost no reason not to collaborate these days with so many tools available. But according to Kare Anderson, CEO, Say It Better Center, itís one thing to collaborate, but itís another to collaborate effectively.
I interviewed her during a Churchill Club event at the Fenwick & West offices in Mountain View, California earlier today. She offered some tools for collaboration and tips on collaborating effectively.
She says, in terms of getting a group together to work on a project within your organization, the most important thing you can do is create the Rules Of Engagement. Thatís whether youíre online or in-person.
* There should only be between five and seven rules or people will get turned off by the restrictions.
* Sample rules include: Each person must be concise when they speak or type; They must be on topic with the conversation at hand; they must not use abusive adult language; they must be on time for each meeting; and they must do what they say they are going to do. There must also be a rule that outlines when a person can be kicked out of the group.
ďThe last one is really important,Ē explains Anderson. She goes on to say, ďItís important because you donít want someone in the group that hinders the groupís ability to be productive.Ē
Itís a lot easier to kick someone off in an online forum, than it is to do it in the boardroom because you donít have to tell them to leave face-to-face. You can simply delete them from an online forum, or remove them from a video chat with the click of a mouse. But keep in mind that in some cases, itís not an option to kick someone out, particularly if itís your boss thatís the unruly, uncooperative one.
But even then, Anderson, says, you simply have to give your boss credit for at least trying to collaborate with his/her team. Maybe you could slip him/her Andersonís blog to give him ideas on more effective collaboration techniques.
Anderson says itís critical that they do figure out how to collaborate effectively because, ďSmart companies know how not to control, but to support the customer community fan groups as well as their own employees, says Anderson. She adds, ďItís really a bottoms-up approach versus top-down that will help them be successful from here, forward.Ē