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10 rules to avoid a Collaboration Hangover

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An ever-increasing number of organizations is chasing the benefits of social collaboration. Unfortunately many of these initiatives leave participants behind with a hangover. Gartner estimates that throughout 2015 about 80% of social business efforts are not expected to achieve the intended benefits. Here are 10 tips to avoid a collaboration hangover. Enjoy the read!

Veröffentlicht in: Business
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10 rules to avoid a Collaboration Hangover

  1. 1. @KRISTOFDEWULF In a world gone social, an ever increasing number of organizations is chasing the benefits of social collaboration, both inside and outside their own four walls. With initiatives such as Google launching its high altitude balloons to wirelessly connect billions of people in remote areas, global collaboration has never been easier and is expected to surge in the next decade. The core drivers to get employees, customers, partners and many other sections of society collaborating with each other are obvious: disseminate knowledge, reduce costs, increase innovation speed and success, share risk, boost market performance and improve operating efficiency. Yet, despite the fact that the promises of social business are overwhelming, Gartner estimates that throughout 2015 about 80% of social business efforts are not expected to achieve the intended benefits. Even more so, many collaboration initiatives leave participants behind with a hangover, generating the opposite effect of what was intended originally. So how do you avoid suffering from a collaboration hangover?
  2. 2. Too many collaborative initiatives are set up for the wrong reasons, for unclear reasons or for no reason at all. When the underlying motivation to start collaborating is the opportunistic desire to just make more money or to look better, you are bound to fail simply because the reason to collaborate is not mutually shared between all participating actors. Make sure you spend enough time articulating the why behind your collaborative efforts, creating a shared and crystal-clear compelling purpose for co- creation. Similar to the story of the elephant and the blind men, only too often we make the wrong assumption that our perception of the world is similar to someone else’s. Without a clear unifying vision, one ends up making too many bad compromises in an effort to address everyone’s concerns, destroying the potential impact of your collaboration. When in 1970 the 3-member crew of Apollo 13 seemed doomedafter an oxygen tank exploded, everyone successfully united around one clear purpose: saving the lives of all three astronauts, making sure nothing would go wrong during their 200,000-mile journey back to Earth. 01 Share a clear purpose @KRISTOFDEWULF
  3. 3. It seems counter-intuitive, but one of the main stumbling blocks for collaboration is that our own success gets in the way. The more successful we are or feel, the faster we stop looking for inspiration through others. Take a brand like Nokia. Being the world’s largest vendor of cellphones from 1998 to 2012, Nokia became too arrogant, assuming past success is a sufficient guarantee for future success. But once a crisis or emergency hits us, it forces us to think and act differently. Fight your own success demons by making people feel somewhat uncomfortable, not allowing them to settle for current success. Create a positive vicious circle of open discovery: the more people (want to) know and discover, the more they realize what they don’t know. Think of the immense amount of time aircraft pilots spend in simulation environments, getting prepared for emergency situations they will hopefully never encounter in reality. Organizations should develop a similar simulation, moving from a ‘crisis- prone’ to a ‘crisis-prepared’ context by immersing themselves in less than comfortable business contexts and surrounding themselves with people thinking differently or being more critical than they are. @KRISTOFDEWULF 02 Make yourself uncomfortable
  4. 4. You cannot force collaboration upon people. It happens because people are intrinsically motivated to be part of it: when they want to, where they want to and how they want to. Collaboration hangovers often result from the fact that people are pushed into rather than pulled towards something. The old ‘plan and push’ is out, the new ‘engage and pull’ is in. Consider the example of Microsoft Encarta vs Wikipedia: while well-paid professionals incentivized with standard extrinsic motivators developed Encarta, Wikipedia was built for fun by unpaid volunteers and believers. Just before Microsoft decided to remove the software from stores in 2009, Wikipedia got 97% of U.S. online encyclopedia visits, Encarta just 1.3%. Create the necessary degree of freedom for people to act autonomously, tapping into their unique strengths and capabilities as suits them best. Next time you think about organizing yet another 2-hour client focus group or internal brainstorm session to squeeze every drop of inspiration out of people, consider alternative formats which allow more flexibility for people to contribute. 03 Embrace opt-in @KRISTOFDEWULF
  5. 5. "Curiosity has its own reason of existing", Albert Einstein said. Humans are indeed ultimate learning machines as long as their engines are oiled by curiosity. Even if there is no immediate benefit, people love to explore the answers to things. Even the best artificial intelligence algorithms fail if they are not encouraged to openly explore new options. Yet, while people are inquisitive by nature, they unlearn a big part of it while growing older, as rigid educational systems and bureaucratic organizational thinking are getting in their way. Did you know human capacity for non-linear, imaginative thinking drops from 50% at the age of 12 to 20% at the age of 16 all the way down to less than 10% the moment we graduate from university? Think about how you nurture the creative child that resides within your workforce, make collaboration a fun and engaging experience and allow people to ‘waste time’. The World’s Deepest Garbage Canis a great example of this, making it fun for people to pick up trash and dump it in a garbage can. 04 Create a curiosity culture @KRISTOFDEWULF
  6. 6. In the massive global change around us, there is one constant: humans remain human and will always act as prosocial beings. So don’t confuse collaboration with a piece of technology or software: these do not solve problems, people do. Collaboration does not simply happen, but needs to be nurtured through a group of people, tapping into human needs and solving human problems. Think of using more ‘Facebook-like’ enterprise collaboration technology that puts social first and collaboration second. Have people do and experience things together, thus creating the necessary social glue for smooth and relevant interactions, sharing and co-creation. Keep it small enough, taking into account Dunbar’s magical number of 150 personswhom we can keep stable social relationshipswith. 05 Make it human @KRISTOFDEWULF
  7. 7. When collaborating with others, people often fear that they will give more than they get back or that they will reveal more of themselves than they want. Define a clear ‘What’s In It For Me’ (WIIFM) for all contributing parties, setting clear expectations as to what people are willing to invest and what they will get back. The LEGO Ideas initiativeallows volunteers to submit any project idea to LEGO. Ideas reaching 10,000 votes are reviewed by the LEGO Review Board and potentially turned into real products, with the person having submitted the original idea receiving 1% of the total net sales of the product. Sharing is caring: create a ‘wall of fame’, making the output of collaboration visible to everyone, put high-performing contributors in the spotlight and embed continuous feedback loops. Sometimes, a mere ‘thank you’ is good enough. The moment users feel they are no longer listened to or appreciated, they will pull out. 06 Think WIIFM @KRISTOFDEWULF
  8. 8. We all know the good old quote from the late Steve Jobs that “people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” He is right in many ways: people often don’t know why they are doing what they are doing, they can’t even always report back about what they actually did, let alone what they were trying to solve. When people are expressing what they want, we often start off from the false assumption that they have a set of stable, explicit, conscious and consistent preferences to live by. Instead of having people tell you directly what they want, you could observe, involve and activate them in new and creative ways so you can get to their deeper needs and emotions. Have you ever considered swapping roles in your company, experiencing how it feels to step into someone else’s shoes and having people learn from this? Take a look at how Adecco’s CEO Patrick De Maeseneireorganized a ‘CEO for one month’ competitionamong Millennialsto take on his job for one month. Congrats to Paola! 07 Don’t believe what people are telling you @KRISTOFDEWULF
  9. 9. Memes are defined as carriers of ideas, behaviors or styles that are transmitted and spread from one person to the next within a culture. Much in the same way as genes, they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressure. Worthy of being imitated and repeated over and over again, memes can be very instrumental in making collaborative initiatives self- sustaining and long-lasting. Think about the power of the selfiesor loom bracelet hypes, spreading like a virus by having people imitate and inspire each other. At Amazon, Jeff Bezos installed a meme by bringing an empty chair into meetings so that people would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Can you think of similar meme-inspired approaches that could act as burning platforms to spur collaboration, getting people positively addicted to it? 08 Create memes @KRISTOFDEWULF
  10. 10. Diversity is the cornerstone of good collaboration, tapping into the complementary power of diverging views and perspectives for a stronger result. It helps to avoid getting involved in managerial wishful thinking and acts as a sound counterbalance for selective perception, ego-involvement and ungrounded optimism. Yet diversity in itself is not enough. Diversity needs to result into a real collaboration culture, making sure diverse opinions and backgrounds blend and are translated into meaningful actions. A strong collaboration culture is one where the whole organization is immersed into collaborative thinking and acting, horizontally and vertically. Ultimately, the organization of the future will thrive on ecosystems of collaboration, minimizing waste, recycling output and being self-sustainable, with various crowds of people being available on demand or providing input without even being asked for it. 09 Consider diversity as astart @KRISTOFDEWULF
  11. 11. At the end of the day, collaboration needs to deliver against business KPIs such as protecting margins, driving market share and loyalty and boosting innovation. Make sure your collaborative efforts are in sync with real and important business needs and that they follow the rhythm of the business rather than the other way round. Try to embed collaborative thinking in existing workflows and projects, making it part of your daily business reality and actions. Think of collaboration as a strategic organizational capability through which you can support everyday decisions and guide strategic choices. A ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work here: your CEO might get the best inspiration from occasional speed-dating with users, while R&D people from UCB, a large pharmaceutical company, get the best results from having patients participate in multi-disciplinary working groups, exactly the same way the company’s strategists and R&D managers do. 10 Find the right beat @KRISTOFDEWULF
  12. 12. @KRISTOFDEWULF It is often said that people do not like change. But maybe it is just that we do not pay sufficient attention to creating the necessary conditions for change. It takes time to train our brain: people can only turn new behavior into a habit after executing the new behavior at least 21 times in a row. While establishing a collaborative culture is a disruptive move for most companies, are we paying enough attention to respecting these 10 rules? I am interested in learning more about your personal experiences and I challenge you to add more rules to avoiding a collaboration hangover. Let’s build a better collaborative future together!

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