There are essentially four ways to go about implementing an enterprise collaboration initiative at any organization, each with their own challenges.

The factors that control the four options are: the duration of the deployment and the scope of the deployment (length of time and how broad the deployment is i.e. across a department or enterprise). Other types of special factors may present themselves on a case-by-case basis but are unique, most organizations fall into one of these four deployments (often called pilots) which can be seen below.

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Based on the variables there are four organizational characteristics:

  1. Skeptical: limited by duration and scope
  2. Reluctant: limited by scope, not by duration
  3. Willing: limited by duration, not by scope
  4. Assertive: not limited by scope or duration

Skeptical: Limited by Duration and Scope

This type of pilot is usually deployed by organizations that are not entirely convinced of the value emergent collaboration can provide; in other words, they are skeptical. Sometimes these types of deployments are used so that those responsible for collaboration can say they tried to do it. For example, you might see the product development or engineering department deploy a wiki for a period of three to six months.

The challenge here is that you don’t have the scale that is often required for emergent collaboration to succeed; there are not enough people involved. With only a few employees using something, you are drastically decreasing the potential value that can be achieved, and the activity or use may be a bit underwhelming. Chances are that the employees in the department deploying a pilot project have already worked together or know one another. Without having that network effect in your organization, collaboration is not as effective.

Furthermore, many other benefits are drastically hindered, if not eliminated, for example, cross-department communication or being able to find subject matter experts. Finally, putting a time limit on emergent collaboration is not the best approach, as collaboration is not bound by time and does not have a shelf life.

Reluctant: Limit by Scope, Not by Time

The challenge in this scenario, as was mentioned above, is that you are limiting the potential value of deploying an emergent collaboration tool because you lose the network and the serendipity effect. You have eliminated time as a barrier, but the scope is still a barrier.