What makes an organization successful with enterprise collaboration? They follow these 12 principles.

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No two chess games are ever the same. In fact there are more possible chess moves then there are atoms in the entire universe or seconds that elapses since the big bang. The world of collaboration is similar. No two companies are going to have the same approach because there are too many variables. Things such as culture, budget, where collaboration initiatives start from, use cases, desired goals, and type of support are some of the variables that differ from one company to the next.


So if chess and collaboration are both limitless then how do we find solutions? One of the things a chess master does is look for similar patterns or positions to help figure out the next move. In the world of collaboration we also have such patterns of trends of successful companies.

Thus far I have identified 12 principles to the success of a collaboration initiative.

1. Individual benefit is just as important as the overall corporate benefit (if not more important)

Don’t focus on the overall corporate value and benefit when communicating collaboration to employees. Employees care about how this will impact them on an individual basis. How will this make their jobs and lives easier? So instead of talking about how much money this can make or save the company, talk about how this can improve the employees productivity, how it can make their jobs easier, and how it can make them happier at work.

2. Strategy before technology

Before rushing to pick that shiny new collaboration platform, focus on developing a strategy which will help you understand the “why” before the “how.” This is crucial for the success of any collaboration initiative. You don’t want to be in a position where you have deployed a technology without understanding why. You wouldn’t buy a $500,000 hammer and then walk around your house bashing things would you? Yet that’s exactly what many companies are doing today, they purchase a hammer and then try to find a problem for it to solve.

3. Listen to the voice of the employee

We are always so adamant about listening to the voice of the customer, what about the voice of the employee? When going down the collaboration road within your enterprise it’s important to make employees a part of the decision making process from step one. Listen to their ideas, their needs and their suggestions and integrate their feedback in your technology and strategy.

4. Learn to get out of the way

This is something Andrew McAfee talks about quite frequently. Learn to empower and support your employees and then get out of their way. By trying to enforce and police everything you stifle collaboration within your organization. Some best practices and guidelines are fine to have but let your employees do what they need to do. Avoid the, “wear any color as long as it’s black” mentality.

5. Lead by example

If leaders at your organization don’t use and support collaborative tools and strategies then why should the employees? Leaders are very powerful instruments to facilitate change and encourage desired behaviors. They must be visibly on board using the tools and not just writing checks to deploy them.

6. Integrate into the flow of work

Collaboration should never be seen as an additional task or requirement for employees. Instead collaboration should fit naturally into their flow of work. For example, instead of having employees use multiple usernames, passwords and log-in sites, create a “front-door” to the enterprise accessed through your collaboration platform (enabled by single-sign-on).