The growth of a healthy internal collaborative environment starts with a healthy collaborative culture. Sounds simple, right? Tapping into the culture of collaboration will yield many opportunities and valuable use cases. However, the reality is that many organizations suffer from disconnection, low engagement or other issues that may impact the collaborative health. For this reason, it’s tough to simply launch a social platform for an organization and expect the collaboration to flow unhindered.
The best approach
The hub and spoke approach to developing a network answers these needs, and introduces the first opportunity for employee engagement by including teams meaningfully as collaboration tools are deployed within an organization. Hub and spoke begins with teams that have business limiting pain points, which can be rectified by a transformation in process, openness and communication.
For example, consider the issues of disparate teams that frequently struggle with, not only the productivity issues of top down communication flows, but also with the disengaged feeling of being at the end of a game of telephone. This experience can be transformed into a collaborative experience, which can keep the participants out of their email, away from duplicative efforts, and reduce the man hours associated with seeking the right resources. I’ve discussed use case development deeply in the past.
These use cases are introduced as the first in the environment where teams can focus on their own work by transforming specific processes. During the process, the delivery team is deeply engaged with the use case, gathering feedback, educating and supporting by adapting in a deeply engaged way. It is important to note that process and tools aren’t the entire picture.
There is a deeply important element of culture that will need to be supported. Ordering teams to collaborate rarely works. Be thoughtful about scope and pace, and consider that the network will grow when the members of the network see value, and a reason to spend their time there. Enterprise-wide collaboration should increase over time – not overnight. Developing or maintaining a healthy network simply means developing or maintaining value and relevance to what users need.
Here are ways to ensure quality and value from the experience.
Leveraging the environment itself, get involved. Staff the environment with community management focused on feedback and user relevance and adoption. Gather sentiment and ideas from the user base. Discuss their challenges and be ready with solutions in real time.
- Offer quality self help resources
Part of a healthy collaborative space is one where a community can identify, correct and promote quality resources in real-time. Include users in the support improvement process as part of day-to-day operations. A rich self-help library, an engaged discussion forum for Q&A, suggestions for use, and clarity for all participants lowers barriers to adoption.
- Demonstrate, support and grow
Open the gates to broader and broader use all the time. This can be done in phases, opening use case criteria to less specific purposes as they’ve become more and more familiar with the already successful use cases. Be sure that help and support are in great shape and are scaled to support the growing network.
- Set goals and measure success.
Support initial use cases by measuring progress to their goals. Is their work reducing email? Is it improving sentiment? Help them along the way as they modify their work habits. Listen and adapt to support them when challenges arise. Be aware that the challenges may have little to do with tools or process.
- Report results to use case champions regularly.
Keep the core motivational team in the know. Collaborate with them to build meaningful activity and value across the network. These core relationships will demonstrate tone and the excitement needed to attract more of the same.
By focusing on these core values, organizations provide the ability to ensure relevance, reduce resistance, and introduce new working behaviors in a way that supports the business goals laid out for collaboration. Successful early use cases offer examples of how the larger organization can employ a collaborative environment and support the broadest adoption.
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