Collaboration is important. You need to collaborate. These are phrases often heard in the workplace, but the true value of collaboration can often get lost in translation. And how to go about properly implementing and executing is often not given the attention it deserves.
If you are a leader in your organization, what can you do? I was invited by Cisco to join a #CiscoChat on July 18 around the subject of collaboration. We had a great time discussing this minefield between innovation and change resistance.
We had an amazing crowd and some really hard-hitting questions for the participants to answer. While there are usually no single right answers and no one-size-fits-all solutions, the participants had a great understanding of the balance between collaboration technology and methodology. Below are a few questions asked in the #CiscoChat with my personal thoughts on each topic.
I’ve seen many enterprises establishing projects for better collaboration, backed by the CEO and communicated from top to bottom. A collaboration platform should be used and backed by the organization’s leaders, but there should be no mandate. It needs to grow organically based on personal recommendations from users. Employees need to use collaboration platforms and feel that value is added to their work day, without strict structures and frameworks to restrict them. Leave the hierarchies flat, keep spaces open and available, and people will collaborate effectively.
The short answer to that is: Everything must be integrated with security. For instance, the world’s most innovative collaboration solution will get nowhere if it’s unsecure. Even if solutions are already deployed, enterprises are more likely to shut it down altogether than risk data leakage, intrusion or other types of cyberattacks.
It’s like Kim Austin from Cisco said in the #CiscoChat, “Collaboration was once with people at the next desk, now it’s global and between companies. Security is crucial.” Even the best idea won’t help you disrupt the market if it’s exposed all over the Internet years before you can bring it to a market-ready state.
Neither collaboration nor digitization can become a directive from management. If you try to push these subjects too hard, employees might develop a resistance against that type of culture.
The value of being collaborative and digital needs to be clear to everybody. Usually some early adopters will pick up “a new tool” or a “new way” of working. If the early adopters feel the value, they will share their experience and the “new way” will organically grow. Leaders should always lead by example and walk-the-walk, but let employees experiment on their own without direct instruction.
Technology, the Internet, IoT, all the devices in the world and all the infrastructure alone won’t make a difference single-handedly. As John Chambers said, “… infrastructure is the vehicle to get us there.” We need to prepare our children for the digital future, so it won’t become the digital dawn of mankind. We should frequently question and verify the subjects we are teaching our children in school and make sure they learn what will be relevant for them in the future.
STEM and technology subjects, in particular, need to play a stronger role in our education systems in my opinion. They need to be able to control, maintain and improve the technology which we have already designed and deployed in order for us to better live our lives. If current legacy occupations someday get replaced with artificial workers, our children need to be the ones who automate, not the ones who are being automated.
You know my opinion now, but there are many others with equally great or even better answers. Check them out in our Storify here, and learn why there’s never been a better time to collaborate and digitize by visiting Cisco’s collaboration site. #NeverBetter