Collaboration; The Good…

Increasing collaboration between employees can bring huge benefits to any organisation. And it’s an area in which social media can make a major contribution  – connecting internal experts through networks and communities; aggregating an organisation’s expertise through wikis and forums; or providing interactive work-spaces, enabling faster responses to market opportunities.

As with any business initiative however, getting the most from increased  collaboration needs proper planning, resourcing and implementation.

Over a series of posts The Good, the Bad and the IT looks at three important aspects of collaboration that any initiative should consider;

  • make it about the users (The ‘Good’…)
  • understand the costs (the ‘Bad’…)
  • tailor the technology to the opportunity (and the ‘IT’).

So, first off…

The Good…


A recent article in Wired magazine featured Gentry Underwood, head of knowledge sharing for IDEO, discussing how the global design agency has developed their award winning intranet, ‘The Tube’, as a means for sharing information.

IDEO’s success highlights the importance of putting the users before the technology when planning any social media initiative and demonstrates five key principles for developing collaborative working online –

  1. Build pointers to people – instead of just putting everything everyone knows into a database, focus on identifying people’s experience, expertise and interests then make it easy for others to find them and get in touch.
  2. Build rewarding systems – users won’t make a system work just to be helpful, they need to see the value in using it, both for the organisation and, more importantly, for themselves.
  3. Create intuitive interfaces – the more difficult something is to use the quicker it will be abandoned, the software needs to be straightforward for all the users not just the techno gurus.
  4. Go to your audience, don’t make them come to you – don’t take people out of their everyday routine to use the new system, make it a useful addition to their working day and they will use it more.
  5. Iterate early and often – the best social tools, like collaboration, grow and improve through responding to user feedback; make this sort of development part of the plan.

This article also appeared on


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