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Is Collaboration Overload really Sinking Productivity?

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Then this article from HBR landed on my desk over the weekend.  “Collaboration Overload is Sinking Productivity.”  That got me thinking, what really is “collaboration?”

Source: Collaboration Overload Is Sinking Productivity

Do you know that meetings, as we know them, were invented in the 1950s as the “best way for us to collaborate.”  But think about it.  In the 1950s there was no internet, no video conferencing, no mobile phone (heck there was hardly a phone system), no personal computers.  The tools of collaboration were a whole lot different then than they are today.

Yet, for some reason, the “meeting”, in much the same format is still used as the “best way for us to collaborate” today.

If Collaboration is “the process of two or more people working together to achieve a goal, or a shared goal”, with the tools that we have available to us today, this should be much better organised, coordinated and efficient.

In my opinion, I think people are scared, or reluctant, to learn more than one or 2 collaboration technologies.  So, they use one technology for a whole host of purposes, most of which were not the intention of the technology.  For instance, a while back I found someone that uses Excel for writing letters, because they had not learned, or were afraid to learn, Word.

This is where IT and HR need to get together and decide on the “stack” that will be used, and then provide the proper training to enable people to learn the stack so that it becomes second nature.  Not only learn the technology, but also what “best practise” would be for that technology in the organisation, not just the How, but also the What, Why, When, and Where of Collaboration.  We don’t fret over should we write this with a pencil or a pen, or should we type it?

If we can’t get this right, productivity will continue to fall, and “collaboration” and/or technology will get the blame.

What is your Collaboration Technology “stack”?  Have you provided comprehensive training for your people in the What, Why, Who, Where, When and How of using the different “tools” in the “stack”?

Gail Sturgess
Agile OD Facilitator / Coach / Consultant
083 654 6480