Is True Collaboration a 2 Pizza Team Rule?
Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerburg have all had a common observation – smaller teams accomplish more. Far more, when it comes to creative or innovative work.
A recent book Midnight Lunch, by Sarah Miller Caldicott, the great-grandniece of Thomas Edison, talks about the approach that made him so successful. The subtitle of the book is “The 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison’s Lab”, in which she details his approach to innovation.
Workspace design and strategy can help increase productivity, but team size can also be a factor in maximizing potential.
Small Teams Were a Central Component of Edison’s Approach
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com’s founder in a 2004 interview with Fast Company recalled an offsite retreat where people were saying that groups needed to communicate more. Bezos stood up and said, “No, communication is terrible!” shocking everyone in attendance. When it came to innovation, Bezos’ experience was that small groups could innovate and test their ideas without becoming entangled in a centralized corporate approach.
The “Two Pizza Team” Rule
Bezos came up with the “Two Pizza Team” rule. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas the team is too large.
Edison had a similar approach at his Menlo Park operation. The “Midnight Lunch” was the small team coming together for a bite to eat while working together, informally in a collegial atmosphere through the evening.
Mark Zuckerburg also believed that small teams gave him a huge advantage over competitors like Yahoo! But for Facebook it was not just the size of the teams but also the focus of the team that made the difference. Caldicott cites an example from Michael Schrage, from the MIT Sloan School.
“Zuckerberg’s software design teams focused on higher-order functions such as robustness, scalability, ease of use, and maintainability – qualities that drive leading-edge performance in the Innovation Age” compared to Yahoo’s small teams who were focused on more traditional metrics like – lines of code written per day.
Additive Vs. Multiplicative Productivity
The result of this varied focus Schrage points out is “additive” vs “multiplicative” productivity. Two companies with 3 teams of 5 would have vastly different results.
Productivity of Additive Approach: 5 + 5 + 5 = 15
Productivity of the Multiplicative Approach: 5 x 5 x 5 = 125
That is more than 8 times more productive! Small teams + high-order focus – a ‘deadly’ one-two punch!
The “2 Pizza Rule” and “Higher-Order Functions Objectives” will accelerate your organization’s collaboration and innovation in today’s Innovation Era.
Technology Driving Small Teams
But what technology tools can turbo charge these small teams and higher-order focus objectives even more?
- Is suited to smaller teams
- Supports group work dynamics on higher-order productivity objectives
- Accelerates creativity and innovation
In one of my recent blogs I talked about the 4 different conferencing technologies that support real time collaboration and how you increase the velocity of collaboration in your meetings (both physical & virtual) by combining the 4 conferencing technologies to provide a collaborative richness, which supports your organizations objectives.
Collaboration Through Interactive Whiteboards
Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) are one of the 4 conferencing technologies. And IWBs meet the three requirements listed above, which enable small teams with higher-order focus to increase the velocity of collaboration even more. This doesn’t mean the other 3 conferencing technologies should be ignored. The more you can effectively combine them, the richer the experience.
But IWBs are the ONLY category of conferencing technology that:
- Is just as useful without remote participants (the other 3 are not required if there are no remote participants). Also referred to as an “In-room only Meeting”.
- Is truly suited for brainstorming and idea flow
- Facilitates the capture of the output of the sessions
IWBs were once more of a novelty item and had far more traction in the K-12 education sector as they are the evolution of the blackboard. The IWB technology has had significant further development to serve the needs of businesses, but be careful of the IWB platform you invest in.
As demand goes up, new IWB solutions are popping up all the time. Don’t be fooled by IWB solutions that are focused primarily on annotating on top of images – most solutions. These solutions are good for emphasizing a point on a PowerPoint presentation in a WebEx type content sharing tool or making annotation on top of any image shown on the IWB display. They will not turbo charge your small teams to greater heights of collaboration and innovation.
Invest in an IWB platform that truly facilitates collaboration and innovation. The technology must be able to:
- Accelerate meeting flow
- Support remote connectivity to IWB sessions
Accelerating Meeting Flow Using Interactive Whiteboards
How do you tell if the IWB solution will accelerate meeting flow? Although the hardware component of the IWB is important, the architecture of the IWB software is the most critical factor.
What does a good IWB solution do to provide good meeting flow?
- It is easy to use
- Facilitates seamless and smooth navigation
- Between applications and the whiteboard
- Within the whiteboard pages
- Within the whiteboard canvas
- Is object oriented so that pictures, graphic images and annotated writing can be easily manipulated as desired, e.g. move, copy, paste, etc.
- Annotation “lives” or “persists” on the application vs on a layer “on top of” the application
- Is integrated directly into industry standard software solutions, e.g. Word, AutoCad, etc. Annotations are saved in the application files.
Technology should be an enabler, not a point of focus in and of itself.
An IWB solution that meets these design points will quickly blend into the background and enable greater innovation and collaboration in your organization.
To learn more about interactive whiteboard technology solutions or our new hybrid work experiences, and how they can be combined with other collaborative conferencing technologies to accelerate innovation and collaboration in your organization, contact us.
Increasing the Velocity of Collaboration in Your Organization
Using technology to bring people together over distance has become a commonplace activity but the number of options available to do this is mind-boggling. And most importantly, getting clarity on a solution can be difficult.
Collaboration is a powerful force. Organizations recognize this and use collaboration technologies in strategic ways.
There are strategic goals that can help your organization cut costs and drive revenues.
The Four Goals Are
- Enhance communication
- Speed problem solving
- Accelerate innovation
- Transform the way you do business
At a high level, organizations are looking to connect room systems and individuals together over distance with the following possible combinations:
- Room system to Room system(s)
- Room system to Individual(s)
- Individual to Individual(s)
In our last blog, we talked about the 4 different kinds of conferencing technologies:
Creating the Right Balance of Technologies
The idea is to create the right balance of technologies for individuals and for room systems that suit your organization. The capabilities and the costs of these conferencing technologies are different and each of these conferencing technologies brings a different dimension of richness to the collaborative experience. Think about this in terms of creating the right balance of the technologies. I like to use the analogy of a spinning top, which is made up of these four conferencing technologies. Each of the four technologies has a different cost to implementing it and brings an associated benefit or richness of experience.
The Spinning Top Analogy
1) You must have audio to effectively have any kind of real time conference. As audio is table stakes, it is the point of the top. Without audio the top will not spin. Without audio other conferencing technologies are simply ineffective.
2) The portion of the top that each of the 4 modalities makes up relates to the richness of that conferencing modality. How robust does your Top need to be?
3) There is also a related dollar cost to each of the conferencing modalities and those cost figure into the overall cost-benefit equation.
The Velocity of Collaboration Revisited
In my last blog, I adapted the four conferencing modalities described above from the Frost & Sullivan, Velocity of Collaboration model. Your organization’s Velocity of Collaboration will be determined by two factors:
1) The Richness of the conferencing capabilities that are deployed
2) The Access your employees are given to these technologies (Access = Availability + Usability)
The “Richness”, combined with “Usability” and “Availability” of the technology will determine the Velocity of Collaboration that your organization can attain.
The Velocity of Collaboration Formula
An organization must decide which of the conferencing technologies are required for connecting over distance. With these benefits you can determine the level of collaboration that can be achieved.
This graphic below shows the relative richness of the conferencing modalities. Richness, together with how you have deployed the technology, your Access (= Availability + Usability), determines how your collaborative capabilities will increase.
Create an Enabler to Greater Collaboration Within the Organization
Once user based collaboration capability requirements are determined, you can select the technologies for meeting rooms and for individuals connecting into conferences. This process is critical and avoids a lot of wasted effort. It also brings a cohesive approach to the technology roadmap your organization requires and helps turn the patchwork of technology found in most organizations into a tapestry.
Going back to the RFI discussion in Part I of this blog, the customer would like Teleconferencing and to layer in Webinars when an Internet connection is available. Teleconferencing, also known as audio conferencing is the most basic form of conferencing technology hence it provides the least “Rich” collaborative experience. Note the customer’s interest in webinars made possible via web conferencing reflects a desire for a richer collaborative experience.
That is why I asked the questions:
- Will the solution they select really meet their needs?
- Do they truly know what they want?
- Do they know what is possible?
I think the answer to each of these questions is “No”.
The ET Group has helped many organizations through this process. Please contact us if we can be of assistance to your organization.
Conference Room Audio Visual Solutions are an Integral Part of a Well Executed UC&C Platform
Unified Communications (UC) has been around for the last 15 to 20 years, maybe longer.
When I first heard about UC, it was about how IT and Telecom would come together. Fast forward to today and IT & Telecom have come together – in more flavours than most Baskin & Robbins stores carry. There is no single, clear path that every organization can follow to get to a UC platform. In fact, in most organizations there are different paths. It depends on where you are starting from and where you want to go. There will be an upcoming blog article discussing the different paths an organization can follow to implement UC.
More often than not, an organization starts with a patchwork of technologies. To capture the numerous benefits (ROI) from UC, that patchwork has to be transformed into a tapestry.
The benefits of UC are significant and are realized when you focus on solving business problems instead of applying technology.
But you still need the technology. And it is not apparent how rooms systems and conference room design are an integral part of UC and the broader picture UC&C, where the second “C” stands for Collaboration.
The systems that are found in boardrooms, meeting rooms, training rooms and other types of corporate meeting spaces were traditionally the realm of the Audio Visual (AV) world and managed by corporate Real Estate Operations. Those rooms have become connected beyond the Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) line, and the responsibility for the technology in those rooms has been/is migrating to IT.
Today those rooms need to be connected for 4 types of conferencing:
- Audio conferencing
- Video conferencing
- Web conferencing
- Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) / Smart Board conferencing
Deciding which of these conferencing technologies should be available in a meeting room will determine the level of collaboration that the meeting room is capable of enabling. I will be doing a blog post shortly on conferencing technologies enabling collaboration.
A best practice for implementing UC&C is to identify your user base and group them into User Classes. You should have between 3 and 12 User Classes. A lower number is better, even for very large organizations. Having the defined User Classes lets you move to the next step – mapping the technology each user class requires to do their job – PC (desktop / laptop), telephone (fixed / mobile / soft), tablets and other (headsets, etc).
So, how does UC&C tie into audio visual communication room systems?
The same best practices to implement UC&C hold true for room systems. Meeting rooms and spaces require a clear definition of what collaborative technology is required in the room to support the four different conferencing technologies listed above. But they need to support those technologies in relation to the UC platform deployed. For example, this means that the video in the room system needs to be compatible/integrated with the video used in the UC platform.
Having the ability to connect remote participants into the room technology conferencing modalities to support the level of collaboration required is critical in a UC&C environment. Being able to easily connect workers seamlessly into the room/meeting spaces is paramount to capturing the benefits and ROI that UC&C can bring.
To facilitate the collaboration and innovation in your organization you need to:
- Allow workers to easily connect with their UC technology platform, into the meeting rooms or spaces – UC to C, with all the different UC media types that are used by the workers; voice, video, desktop sharing, IM.
- Make the remote experience as good as being there
The penalty for poor implementation is not taking full advantage of collaborative technology ROI.
People will continue to travel, resulting in lost savings and productivity reduction. Also, real estate reduction benefits will not be realized because the workers will still come into the office. And those lost benefits can be huge.
If there are many meeting rooms in an organization, it makes sense to create room standards for up to a dozen meeting room types and implement those standards throughout the organization. This will make the technology decision for the rooms simpler, consistent and easier to use and support. An upcoming blog post about the benefits of creating room standards for multiple meeting rooms will be coming soon.
The benefits of tying your UC platform seamlessly into your room systems are significant. Doing it right requires proper planning, standards, integration and training. If you have any questions about connecting your room systems to your UC platform, contact us.