I’ve been supporting collaborative technologies since I officially entered the job market more than two decades ago. And as some technologies have come and gone, the desire and need to support a more collaborative way of working among employees has remained.
I’ve seen (and supported) enterprise investments for many different types of collaborative systems and the selection process is always the same, it begins by establishing needs and requirements. And “better collaboration” has always been at the top of the list and defined as a feature, capability or outcome. The excuse in the early days could have been linked to the fact that the majority of discussions were lead by IT and therefore collaboration always took on a technical perspective. However, this is no longer the case. Today the majority of technology discussions are being driven by the business, and they are the ones leading the charge on enabling the workforce to be better engaged through collaboration. By establishing requirements, defining goals and targeting specific collaborative components, the business is trying to forcibly ingrain collaboration into the organisation. But even through these exercises, lead by the business, collaboration is still being seen as a technical feature or function of a solution or seen as an arrived default outcome once a product has been rolled out. Better collaboration is being seen as a given rather than a goal.
This is because many enterprises believe that by selecting a particular product or product set, users will magically begin to collaborate. That the product will drive collaborative behaviour rather than enable it. Enterprises need to understand that collaboration is a voluntary activity and that the implementation of technology merely enhances the ability for employees to collaborate – at best.
Enterprises need to also understand that it’s only through the changing of its organisational culture and the education of its users can instill the need, desire and default way of working to one of a collaborative mode. Technology, on its own, will not drive change in a user’s behaviour. It is the responsibility of the business to understand that only through the successful pairing of organisational change along with an enabling technology will users have the ability and potential of becoming more collaborative.