A new book has hit the shelves this week. The Collaborative Organization, A Strategic Guide to Solving Your Internal Business Challenges Using Emerging Social and Collaborative Tools comes from Jacob Morgan, co-founder of Chess Media Group and if you are one of the many organizations struggling to understand how to be more open and collaborative, then you might just want to pick this one up.


Emergent Collaboration

We call this need to work better together internally many things, enterprise collaboration, social business, etc.. Morgan refers to it as "emergent collaboration". From the book: 

I settled on using the term emergent collaboration because emergent means “becoming visible or being noticed” and collaboration means “working with someone to create something or achieve a goal.” This sums up exactly what this book and this business evolution are about: new ways of working with people to create things and solve problems."

I'm not personally a fan of new terms, I think that we are getting way too many and it's confusing the real issue at hand. That being said, Morgan is right in how he define collaboration today and this book goes a long way to helping organizations both understand why they need to embrace this new way of working and how to select the right tools to fit the business need.

A Book on Strategy

The book is divided into three main sections:

Part 1: The Opening: This section is not about why you need to do collaboration. The book assumes you've come to that understanding already and need help moving forward. It offers ideas on business drivers, how to get the right people involved and ensures that you understand the risks involved in moving to a more collaborative environment (and deal with them appropriately). There's also a chapter completely dedicated to some case studies including ones from Telus and Pennsylvania State University.

Part 2: The Middle Game: Technology is important, but it's not the first thing you should be thinking of when you decide to become a more collaborative organization. However, once you've made the commitment and figured out what you need to do, then you need to know what technology is going to best suit your needs. And that's what part 2 is about. It looks at the technology landscape, provides some advice when evaluating and working with vendors and it offers an Adaptive Emergent Collaboration Framework which you can adapt to your organization's situation. The Framework, depicted below, shows you the different areas you need to understand and possibly include in your strategy (you don't have to have them all). There's also a maturity model that shows the stages you might move through as you work on a particular element of the framework.

Jacob Morgan's Adaptive Emergent Collaboration Framework

The section finishes with a chapter on the different types resistance and how you can deal with them.

Part 3: The End Game: A successful implementation doesn't mean the work is done. How do you ensure adoption? How do you measure your strategy and implementation are successful? How do you sustain it? These questions are discussed and answered in section three.

Learning From the Best and Those Who Have Been There

There are a lot of great experts who had some involvement with this book -- either writing forwards/afterwards (Gil Yehuda wrote the forward and Don Tapscott wrote the afterward) or offering advice and insights (a few to mention include Don Peppers, Carl Frappaolo, Mark Fidelman).

At the end of most chapters are short pieces from either consultants and analysts within the industry, or from companies who have been there.

What that tells me is that book leverages the combined insights of so many people in the field that you know you are going to get good quality information.

Another thing I like about the book is that most chapters have homework. You've read some good information, but what next? You are given a set of questions to answer to apply what you've learned to your own situation. As the book clearly shows, no two organizations are going to do this the same way, so there's no cookie cutter approach you can apply. You have to understand and then adapt the frameworks and concepts to work for your organization.

This book could very well help you do that. You can pick it up on Amazon, read a few reviews while you are there. I'll be honest. I have this book as a PDF, but as I did with Peter Kim and Dion Hinchcliffe's Social Business By Design (for which a review is coming soon), I'll likely be purchasing a hard copy of this one for my shelf.

If you want to get a better feel for Jacob Morgan's views on collaboration and social business, I encourage you to read some of the articles he's written for CMSWire, and check out our review of the survey Chess Media Group did on the topic (of which the results are included in the book).