Landing on the moon. Summiting Mount Everest. Exploring the Poles or ocean depths. Winning championships or winning a great client. Great things happen when people work together. Collaboration is the key to many accomplishments.
Michael Sampson defines collaboration as – “People working with other people towards a common outcome.” Business is fast shifting landscape. It’s becoming more personalized. An impersonal, red tape and procedure laden enterprise is looking more like a dinosaur than ever.
With the rise of social media tools and platforms we’re seeing the rise of emergent collaboration. A younger generation of workers is extremely verse with using these new digital collaboration tools. Being in step with these changes, or getting ahead of the curve is more important than ever. It’s really no longer a choice. for your business, nor for knowledge workers.
Collaboration is often a misused word. For instance:
Collaboration is not simply people communicating with each other by passing data, information, and knowledge back and forth.
Communication is important. But collaboration is more than that. It is the experience that integrates people, processes, and technology.
Larry Hawes talks about two fundamental types of collaboration – structured and emergent.
These are very different and situated at two opposite endpoints of a continuum.
Structured collaboration has been around a long time:
A meeting is a form of structured collaboration, as is project management process.
Usually hierarchical in nature – superiors guide work achieved by many.
Emerging collaboration is much less structured, and much more self-guided:
organizational chart may show hierarchy, but it doesn’t represent real business collaboration
Can be an on-the-fly process
Here are some examples of emergent collaboration:
HVAC technician on a service call encounters an unfamiliar problem can use a collaboration tool, quickly identifying someone with the expertise or experience to help solve the problem while on site.
He can easily add details about the problem to help the expert (photos, diagrams, etc.)
He can broadcast a description of the problem to a broad relevant set of people, and hope one can help.
Once engaged with an expert they walk through the problem and jointly solve it, test it, and close the service call.
This type of collaboration is self-initiated (no one directed him to do it). It can happen very quickly, and can very well be a learning process.
Technology is significantly enabling collaboration today:
The goal, and the power of collaboration technology is to help people share information as naturally as possible.
Gives people better information, faster, so they can do a good job and feel like they are doing a good job.
Empowers people to work their way
Helps people learn and innovate
At one time email was deemed an important collaboration technology tool. However it’s ineffective. Often users deal with too many messages, too many people are copied, and message threads are too hard to follow. Because there’s often too much to read, key information is difficult to find.
The best collaboration tools are social networking applications integrated with document and project management software. You’re seeing tools like Yammer, Instant Messenger, Dropbox, and Google Docs. BuiltSpace is also proving to be helpful for facilitating collaboration specifically in the FM environment. Cross-organizational social tools like Shift will let workers collaborate across companies, while universal dashboards like Hojoki–a mobile app that tracks Evernote will become more popular.
The benefits of collaboration include:
Combining different perspectives – all angles are considered.
Encouraging creativity – different perspectives can generate ideas.
Taking advantage of synergies – people bring different skills and knowledge.
Bringing balance to decision making – more stakeholders in decision making have a say.
Improving delivery times – faster resolutions
Lowering costs and lowering risks – from all of the above
Technology can help manage sharing across time zones and geography, bringing a wider set of skills and knowledge depending on the problem.
Improving learning, creativity, and innovation.
Fostering a better workplace environment. People will be happier by feeling more productive, by becoming better problem solvers while also developing more personally.
Collaboration not only equals a happier workforce, it represents a more educated one. It naturally inspires a sense of community within an organization. Employees feel like they are a part of a family.
In Facilities Management there are many ways collaboration can help:
FM is mainly a mobile workforce with mobile issues. Operations people or technicians often don’t have all the expertise needed for solving problems. Collaboration can be a huge benefit especially when remotely enabled tools are deployed.
Collaborating can reduce errors, rework and lead to faster problem resolution. When technicians or operations people aren’t sure of a solution and they can quickly get more information.
By collaborating with tenants you can find out preferences on issues, get ideas (for instance – on energy conservation programs), get feedback on building programs and events.
Collaborating across buildings allows operations people to learn from each other how to solve new issues.
Collaborating can have benefits across the industry. Won’t it be nice connecting all the FM energy managers so you can share conservation ideas. Or better yet when your energy manager has a particular problem they can see if any other FM energy managers have any solutions or ideas.
The Best Practices on display by Best-In-Class organizations support and nurture a culture of collaboration by providing the right environment and technology to support it.
They are empowering and engaging people to innovate, create valuable new ideas, and to solve problems both big and small.
Mobile tools are allowing for on-site, just-in-time collaboration to happen. This is most effective when integrated with document management that allows for an improved flow of vital additional information.
Technology needs to be mobile, easy to use, and easy to integrate with other applications.
The BuiltSpace platform is specifically designed to provide this kind of support. By working “together” we can accomplish great things. In fact extraordinary things can happen that could never be accomplished alone.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” —Ryunosuke Satoro