Moving the needle on collaboration in your organization
How to move from the 72% to the 28%
People understand from experience that when they collaborate, they can accomplish more. And the numbers underscore that companies who collaborate better outperform their peers by 2 to 6 times.
Yet most companies or departments are in the 72% of organizations whose collaboration maturity is either, “Unsupported” or “Non-integrated”.
Whether I talk to a small businesses or a department in a large corporation, one thing is common, they all want to collaborate better. They want to be able to do more from both an effective communication and collaboration point-of-view. Even though they are doing some collaborative things, they know they can do more. But they aren’t sure what they should be doing next to collaborate better. Even when we start talking about some of the things that they could be doing, they have a hard time imagining themselves using the new collaborative tools within their businesses or they can’t imagine spending any money on the tools they want to get better at collaboration.
There are many different things that you can do to build your organization’s collaborative muscle and accelerate your collaborative performance. Here is a chart from SMART Technologies “Inspired Collaboration” initiative, which shows many of the levers which can be adjusted within your organization.
These levers are really good for a “top down” approach to collaboration within your organization, but they don’t help much when your company doesn’t have the resources to conduct a “top down” analysis.
Most organizations take a Crawl, Walk, Run (C-W-R) approach, which is a sound strategy, however, many never make it past the Crawl stage – the 72%
So how can you take the C-W-R approach and make sure you progress?
Step 1: The most important meeting
No matter how big or small your company is, let’s take the discussion down to a departmental level, to make this applicable to every businessperson, Ask yourself – What is the most important meeting you attend that recurs at least once a month?
Chances are that whatever meeting you picked, it is some kind of an update or status meeting. A meeting whose objective is to synchronize the activities of a team updating each other on what has happened since the last time you met. This could be a weekly Sales meeting, Operations meeting, a Project meeting, etc. – you get the idea.
In the meeting, it is likely that the team is making adjustments to some kind of scorecard or project plan trying to monitor their progress since the last meeting and deciding where their attention needs to be directed too. Once you have identified that meeting, you should now answer these questions from a collaboration point-of-view:
Are the participants all local or are some remote? If there are remote participants, are they all individuals or is there another meeting room somewhere that has a number of people that are joining the meeting (or both)?
What technologies are you using? How are you using them?
What is missing? How do you want everyone more engaged, more involved?
Depending on the answers to these questions you can start to incrementally make your “Most Important Meeting” better. The first incremental improvements often don’t cost anything at all. Why? Because most people don’t know how to get the most out of the technology they are already using. I sometimes sit through a customer’s “Most Important Meeting” and after the meeting is over, I point out 2 or 3 things that they can do to make the experience better for everyone just by making a few adjustments.
The next part of the crawl is to add a couple of pieces of technology that will further enhance the meeting. These can be anywhere from a couple $100 to say $2,000. Adding these pieces builds the quality of the meeting experience, e.g. making it easier to hear and be heard.
The next step is where we start to progress from the crawl to the walk. Here is where we lay out how we can make the meeting better with technology, which makes collaboration easier for in-room participants, and for remote participants, makes them feel like they are in the room with the rest of the people.
This is where you have to spend more money on technology IF you want to get to this point. The types of technology you would add:
- In-room content sharing
- High quality audio
- Large format LED displays & Multiple displays
- Video conferencing
- Multi-function room capabilities
- Electronic Interactive Whiteboards
- And more
Depending on the size of the room these technologies can add up. Each one of them on their own can start at several thousand dollars and if you go big, 10s of thousands. But if you have budget constraints, you can prioritize and implement them one at a time until you get to the collaborative experience that is optimal for your “Most Important Meeting”.
The “Most Important Meeting” tends to drive the priority of having room technology to accelerate collaboration and enhance communication, but from my experience it plays a secondary, but important role in an organization’s collaborative development. You will get a much bigger payback if you can accelerate the collaboration of all the activities that take place between the “Most Important Meetings”. If you can inject greater collaboration into the activities between the team members as they do their day-to-day jobs, you will go to a full collaborative Walk.
But how do you do that?
Step 2: team activities between the most important meetings
Stay tuned to this blog for Steps 2 to 4 on moving collaboration forward in your business or department. But remember you can increase your collaborative muscle by:
- Taking small steps – some incremental things are foolproof and cost nothing
- Not being afraid of bigger steps
- Planning to learn from every step you take
And remember the goal, you can make your organization 2 to 6 times better by increasing your velocity of collaboration.
3 Steps to Building a Collaborative Business
Investing in technology tools that drive innovation and connect key stakeholders will help accelerate collaboration only if people know how to use these tools. Otherwise, instead of accelerating collaboration, you’ve just purchased some expensive dust collectors.
This is why adopting technology is just as important as the technology itself to advance collaboration within your organization.
Initiating User Adoption
What is involved in effective user adoption? Typically a training team is assembled and directed as to what should be covered in a training session. A more effective approach is to initiate user adoption by taking a “top-down” approach in communicating the vision. All collaboration sponsors should take the opportunity and put collaboration into practice. How can you capitalize on the opportunity?
- Use training events to also explore the benefits of collaboration technology
- Reinforce how collaboration can help to achieve business results
- Understand how user adoption drives ROI on collaboration technology
- Avoid these 5 Common Mistakes in Technology User Adoption
The 3 Step Approach to Effective Technology Adoption
Using this approach will lead to successful technology adoption.
It is important to note that in order to have real change in behaviour, it also takes time, a strategy and resources to make it happen.
During the assessment phase, it is important to determine the strategy gaps that prevent an organization from achieving their collaboration goals. To successfully conduct an assessment, everyone must keep an open mind and avoid coming into the process with a predetermined solution in hand. Assessments must be extensive and include examining the organization’s needs in the three areas of collaboration: culture, process, and technology. Begin to collaborate by bringing in other resources such as HR, finance, and IT to help determine the organization’s current state. Describe the desired state and map the gap between the two. The assessment should aim to identify what the best solutions are to help achieve the organization’s desired goal. Many organizations believe that training will close the gap but it may not necessarily be the case. What if the assessment indicates that there are gaps in processes? The gaps can be filled. For example, adjusting the way a purchase order is completed. Or, a culture gap may require extensive strategic changes that effect how the organization functions as a whole. It is key that executives tap into the knowledge of their training departments by completing a needs assessment prior to conducting training. Executives should also encourage other departments to collaborate in the assessment phase in order to ensure that information sharing lays the ground work for the next phase, the implementation strategy.
Teamwork is vital during the implementation step. For example, introducing video conferencing, as a corporate-wide strategic initiative should include multiple stakeholders. The planning and implementation process should include a partnership between IT, Finance, Project Management, Training, and an executive sponsor. All the partners should participate in sharing their knowledge and insight to develop and execute the plan. The result of collaborating and openly sharing ideas is two-fold: an innovative plan and better buy-in leads to a higher adoption rate. When implementing a business improvement measure, a learning and development professional will recommend many short training sessions. This allows people to have the opportunity to absorb what they have learned and trainers can reinforce concepts. Real change occurs when what has been taught becomes the norm. Learners must be encouraged to adopt behaviours that support the business improvement strategy; this is where tangible organizational change will occur. Make the implementation process an evolution not a revolution.
There is a great saying: “What gets focused on gets done.” This is what the evaluation phase is all about. This is a time when organizations should review what is actually happening after training and this should be done shortly after training – say 4 to 6 months afterwards. A successful evaluation should include:
- Measurements of key metrics that can be used to determine the level of success of the business improvement and user adoption of the new technology
- Identify new gaps or solutions
- Refine and refocus on the goal
Teamwork should play a role in this phase as well. For an in-depth evaluation, consider using focus groups as a tool. Two focus groups should be conducted with:
- Stakeholders that were involved in planning and implementing the strategy
- Employees who are impacted to allow them to share their knowledge and experiences
Share feedback widely. Celebrate the accomplishments.
The knowledge collected from your evaluation stage will help you get a better understanding of how well collaborative approaches work in your organization and will help the organization to develop more informed plans for future implementations.
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
Confucius (Chinese philosopher & reformer, 551 BCE – 479 BCE) said, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” This holds true when using collaboration in assessing, implementing and evaluating changes to how your organization does business.
Collaboration technology that has been embraced by employees allows the organization to realize the true benefits the technology was meant to enable and encourages a culture of knowledge sharing, appreciation of challenges and successes, and becoming more flexible and competitive.
If you would like more information on the 3 Steps to Building a Collaborative Business, contact us.