The Four Cs of Effective Collaboration

Tim Banting
Tim Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise social collaboration, when correctly implemented, reduces decision making time and building upon the collective wisdom of communities
  • Technology is but part of an enterprise social collaboration strategy- there are other barriers to adoption that need to be overcome

Modern organizations understand they need to react to a rapidly changing business environment quickly. The need to address customer demands, react to competitive threats, and improve profitability, is largely dependent on the way employees interact and engage, collaborate and communicate – not only with each other, but also with business partners and customers.

The need to reduce the consequences of delays and missed deadlines is also critical for a modern business. For many there are now more staff that are remote than located in a physical office, increasing the difficulty in contacting others when needed. This further adds delays to important decision making and hinders the effective communication of critical business information.

In order for companies to collaborate effectively it helps to consider these four key areas within the context of adopting enterprise social collaborative solutions.

  1. Culture – One of the biggest barriers to the successful adoption of collaborative solutions is the organizational culture of a company. Collaboration aims to flatten, blur and decentralize “command and control” management styles; organizational hierarchies cannot respond quickly to changing business demands.  Collaboration offers an environment of cross-departmental “communities” with fewer layers and more decentralized decision making. This can be intimidating to those companies (and managers) that favor a more power-based reporting structure.
  2. Coordination – The main technological driver behind the adoption of enterprise social collaboration is to remove “information silos.” The benefit of such a collaboration solution is to improve an employee’s focus on projects, customers, or communities of interest by “harmonizing” information and activities across departments. Previously such information might be locked away in personal inboxes, on individual PCs or, more alarmingly, stored in public cloud services outside the control and governance of company IT departments.
  3. Cooperation – In order to improve the adoption, and therefore return on investment of collaborative solutions, companies need to encourage and empower employees in all parts of the organization to work together. The adoption of new working practices is made visible through the very nature of collaborative tools. The success of these new services accelerated by senior managers acting as facilitators to encourage cooperation. Managers need to change themselves and encourage their teams to change with them, which requires the capacity to lead by example and let go, rather than to “command and control.”
  4. Connection – Many companies think of those employees that interact with people outside the organization as being limited to customer facing staff such as sales or customer support. Collaborative solutions provide the capability to develop relationships with external partners or customers beyond front line staff. Linking up a company’s front office with back office, and externally linking with business partners and customers, (often referred to as federation) significantly increases demand-side economies of scale. This then creates a “network effect” as the solution becomes more valuable and more people join in.

Only when these four Cs of collaboration are addressed and used in conjunction with an enterprise social collaborative solution, is a company’s ability to respond to opportunities and threats rapidly realized.

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