Once an organization realizes effective collaboration is crucial – and not happening at the moment – what is there to do? In one case, I recommended using technology to enable leaders to sharing information and skills. If you get leadership collaborating more effectively, the rest of the organization will come along over time.

While this particular organizational team latched onto the technology piece, they missed the opportunity with initial implementation. That’s because they created a site for leaders that was a one-way push of information; all content, all the time. Moreover, publishing/sharing was highly centralized; all content came through a corporate communicator. There was no interaction.

Use what you already have

Interestingly, the organization had interactive and collaboration tools; they paid licensing fees for a whole package of great social and collaboration tools. They just need to use them effectively.

Important tip #1: look at what you have before paying for new or different software. I can’t tell you how many times organizations – or individual departments in the organization – march out and buy something they think solves needs before looking at what is already licensed and available.

I once had a client with six different wiki platforms. This meant employees could not collaborate outside their own wiki tool, but were stuck in groups that didn’t cross the silos. Such a situation typically occurs because of a lack of effective governance that forces strategic decision-making.

Centralization of requirements definition and solution selection is good. Centralization of content publishing, on the other hand, is bad. The former enables the organization to look across the environment to see what is already there that can be leveraged to meet newly identified needs. Even custom development can be leveraged in this way, realizing higher return on the investment. Centralization of content, however, slows sharing and reduces trust in the channel.

Back to driving leadership collaboration

We took it back to the drawing board to integrate more interaction in the leadership site. Here are some of the simple changes recommended:

  • Provide people profiles that explain what they do, what they know and what they can help others
  • Add commenting to posts
  • Enable rating, which not only spurs engagement, but also enables you to surface popular items
  • Enable everyone in the leadership group to post
  • Provide short, simple, just-in-time how-to videos and other training
  • Explain how they should interact with each other in the new space; it’s new for many
  • Provide personal mentoring and enlist several active champions

Important tip #2: support leaders with what they need to incorporate the new thing into their work day. If you want interaction and collaboration, you have to help some people see what that looks like. Not everyone comes to it naturally.

Important tip #3: content alone will not drive improved collaboration. I know this one seems obvious, but it has to be said out loud. If collaboration is the end game, written words cannot be your only method. Getting people talking is the very best possible scenario and sometimes technology can help us do just that. After all, it’s about the dialogue!

Want to learn more?

I am chairing and teach at two upcoming conferences. Join me to learn more about intranets, digital workplaces and the art of getting people to collaborate effectively.