Having a collaboration strategy is critical for knowledge-intensive companies, but many organizations have failed to properly design and execute a plan for enabling employee-to-employee collaboration. Creating a collaboration strategy is all about identifying how your teams work, what tools can be used for team collaboration, and matching the right patterns with the right tools. For information on creating a collaboration strategy see Info-Tech’s solution set: Build an Enterprise Collaboration Strategy.
A tool that sits on the shelf is of no value – securing end-user adoption is a critical piece of the collaboration puzzle. Traditional wisdom has held that creating an office for “Chief Collaboration Officer (CCO)” is a viable means for boosting user adoption. This couldn’t be further from the truth – a CCO is antagonistic to the new paradigm of bottom-up, network driven collaboration. The rise of social tools has seen the emphasis shift from command-and-control hierarchies to flexible, friend-of-a-friend networks of employees and teams. Social collaboration tools require organic growth, not “mandated” growth. Having a CCO (a hierarchical, top-down position) to drive collaboration is like trying to herd cats… it’s not going to work.
Instead of a CCO, organizations should find tech-savvy, mid-to-senior level employees to serve as collaboration evangelists. These individuals don’t mandate collaboration strategies or tools, but rather “lead through example” and provide informal peer-to-peer training on new tools to other employees in their respective teams or departments. IT must identify and train evangelists on the range of collaboration solutions that will be offered. Evangelists should ensure they make continual use of the platforms, and focus on selling productivity benefits to other employees. As more users buy into social collaboration tools, network effects will blossom and it will be easier to reach a critical-mass for enterprise scale deployment. After a platform is rolled out to the entire firm, collaboration evangelists can be used to help encourage sustained adoption and serve as resident “subject matter experts” to assist others with technical or functional questions on collaboration tools.