“Destination Collaboration” – Stillborn?

Saw a thought-provoking YouTube video hypothesizing that people in organizations don’t collaborate because it’s just too hard. The post came from my friend and former colleague, Andy Fox, who was CTO of SiteScape when I was VP of Marketing there. The company, since acquired by Novell, made a terrific web and real-time collaboration application.

Andy’s message is spot on. “Destination collaboration,” a term I believe he coined, is too difficult and rarely embraced by the people who should be communicating and sharing knowledge. He suggests that messaging with “organizing tools” added in is the way to go and the future of collaboration.

But messaging was and is a dismal failure for collaboration. (The exception might be what I call “short burst issues:” matters that are narrow in scope and timeframe.) Witness the collapse of Kubi Software, which (in its original incarnation) was created to use messaging as the collaboration platform, supplemented by the kind of organizing structures I think Andy has in mind. The limitations of messaging are why destination collaboration tools were invented in the first place. This is a central theme in the marketing messages from developers of these applications.

Research from groups such as NetAge, as well as our experience at SiteScape, reveals that so much of the problem getting collaboration to work is a people / culture issue that organizations ignore like the plague (or perhaps the H1N1 virus). When stakeholders do pay attention to organization culture and people’s motivations, so-called destination collaboration can be highly effective. Witness the success of large-scale collaboration at Shell International and the US Centers for Disease Control, two enlightened users of these tools.

If you want to learn more about “destination collaboration” and Andy Fox’ point of view, watch his video, “Say Goodbye to destination collaboration.”

The renewable energy ventures I work with need good ways to collaborate. Andy, I’ll be interested to hear your next step.

– Posted by Tom Witkin

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Posted in Blogroll, Collaboration, Email, Marketing, Tales From the Road, Uncategorized
One comment on ““Destination Collaboration” – Stillborn?
  1. I agree completely with much of Andy’s analysis about the plethora of confusing tools, requiring people to reinvent how they work for every project. And, “destination collaboration” is a great term. Total waste of time AND many people end up wanting to scream. Howevuhhhh, I don’t think the answer lies in collaboration via messaging. Rather, I think it lies in consistency of collaboration design so that every collaboration space you go to has approximately the same architecture, arrayed in basically the same way. I use an analogy from physical space to illustrate: when you go into a room, where do you find the light switch? Near the door – maybe to the left, maybe the right, but it’s not on the ceiling, in the opposite corner, in a different room altogether. Our collaboration “destinations” need to have the light switches in the same place. All “people” information needs to be on the same “wall;” all info about meetings on the same wall…and so on. When you collaborate online, you need common space. The group needs to live together somewhere. Clever messaging solutions can get us there but we need to go somewhere to co-locate our online selves/work/life.

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