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Are these the six best steps towards a culture of extreme collaboration?

7th Dec 2012
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CIOs and business managers will fail to improve performance outcomes through business process management (BPM) if they cannot overcome barriers to communication and collaboration.

That’s according to Gartner, which advised business leaders that they can avoid this failure if they embrace extreme collaboration (XC – a new operating model and an extreme style of collaboration.

XC is enabled by combing four nexus forces into a pattern that can dramatically innovate the way people behave, communicate, work together and maintain relationships to collectively deliver breakthrough process performance, said the firm.

Janelle Hill, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, explained: “Collaboration is a critical activity in many operational business processes, both structured and unstructured. An XC environment is essentially a virtual war room or crisis center, where people can come together to collaboratively work on a shared purpose.

“This environment is available 24/7, thus enabling people to work when, where and how they need to in order to meet shared goals and outcomes. What makes it extreme is people's willingness to cross geographic, organizational, political, management boundaries, to pool their collective skills and resources to solve problems and move toward the attainment of a shared, ambitious goal.”

According to the analyst house, these are the six best practices organisations should consider when moving to a culture of XC:

Foster the use of virtual, web-based collaboration spaces

One way to spur novel forms of collaboration is to select an activity currently handled through traditional methods, such face-to-face meetings or email, and encourage it to take place in a virtual, likely web-based, collaboration space instead.

Experimenting and gaining experience with such virtual collaboration is critical to XC, because an XC environment virtually operates in the same vicinity where the people do their daily jobs. The always on/always available characteristic of an XC environment means this type of extremely collaborative behavior can be dynamically incorporated into processes as an ad hoc activity.

Exploit the value of near-real-time communication addiction

Establishing real-time communication habits in the workplace enables a freer flow of information and more proactive notifications, so that people can respond more quickly to unexpected events and business disruptions.

Real-time communication can break entrenched behaviors of relying on the management hierarchy to distribute information appropriately and, thereby, help overcome some of the communication-related problems associated with organizational politics.

Use crowdsourcing and popular social media tools for dynamic communities and collaboration

One good way to kick-start the mind-set for extreme collaboration is to host a "tweet jam" to trigger a dynamic community to brainstorm on a problem. This involves simply setting a time and topic, and encouraging people to participate and get working. Unlike a conversation in a meeting room, all communication is captured so there's a clear record of what was discussed, who contributed ideas, and which participants excelled at facilitating discussions and problem-solving.

Change reward systems to encourage collaboration

Enterprises that embrace XC reward influence collaborative behavior that contributes to resolving complex problems, in addition to rewarding individual deliverables. They design performance evaluations and incentives to foster teamwork and reward exceptional collaborators.

The use of collaboration technologies also makes it easier to track collaborative behavior and tie it directly to outcomes achieved.

Use social network analysis to measure the collaborative behavior of teams

Another way to measure and reward collaborative behavior is to track how people interact. Social network analysis (SNA) and some social media monitor people's social network influence. An XC culture is built on openness, trust and mutual respect and SNA is a technique to help process owners and business process improvement (BPI) leaders identify strong social networks where a foundation of trust and respect exist. .

Plan group events to kick-start real-time communication and collaboration

A few simple steps can help force people out of their ‘comfort zones’ to experiment with new ways of collaborating and interacting, including designating mobile-video attendees at meeting; using game play to spur new forms of collaboration and creative interaction; and considering turning off email for a defined time period. 

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