SAN FRANCISCO – In the city of technology innovation, I learned the best tech lesson.
It’s not always about the technology. And this is especially true when it comes to social collaboration in the enterprise.
You see, we had our first company meet-up at our San Francisco headquarters this past week (me, and colleague Anton, left, are pictured here). Not a conference call. Not an email. A collaborative chain.
None of that.
It was human-to-human, the kind of connection where you shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye. Remember that?
We’ve met before in person, but not with our new-faced, growing, awesome team.
Lost in Collaboration Land
Guess what? I was a little lost.
When I had something to say inside our company digs, I wasn’t sure how to get going. You know, break that in-person collaboration seal.
But I quickly found a way: I started talking to my colleagues. This in-person collaboration stuff ended up lasting two days, finishing up with the second of two awesome dinners in Frisco (taking a jab there at a SF-living colleague who said to never say “Frisco” to SF people).
“How do you think it went?” I was asked.
It hit me then.
“You know,” I said, “I think we already won the moment we got here.”
Because we were no better than robots to each other before this. Collaborators on various enterprise social software platforms, emails and a few phone calls. Mastermind instant-messaging machines.
Not All About Tools
Heck, these tools absolutely help us do our jobs.
But you know something? This human-to-human stuff is pretty cool. Sure, we may have to shower before we work and wear clothing, but we’re actually under the same roof.
Imagine Joe Montana and Jerry Rice collaborating on social software in order to get more touchdowns? Not the same as those two connecting on the grass with the old-school Niners in the 80s.
Our own company had many touchdowns all week, and this wraps around to my little thesis. It’s not about the technology.
I don’t care how cool a social collaboration tool is, how much it streamlines communication, how much it gets you out of your inbox and even how much it produces tangible ROI.
Without human to human interaction, you’re always in a bit of a collaboration fog, much like the stuff that rolls into this city every morning.
Your products and ultimately your company are only as good as your people. And people do better when inspired by other people – even more so when it’s not through a third-party chit-chat platform from across the globe.
Team chemistry? I’m buying it.
Sure, the enterprise social collaboration space is red-hot right now, and there are some great software innovators out there.
But innovation comes in many shapes. This week, just showing up in San Francisco did the trick for me.