Monthly Archives: August 2018

Winning workplace collaborations: start with the end in mind

There’s an excellent report just out – “Guidance for Collaborative Working” just out from the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. – that provides great advice on how best to make workplace collaborations more effective.

The report makes the important point that the word “collaboration” is very much over-used or misapplied. For example, technology solutions are often referred to of themselves as being ‘collaborative’ yet technology, on its own, can’t bring success to collaboration, even if it can make it easier to achieve. This in turn makes it harder to understand when collaboration can – and cannot – work.

Everyone instinctively “gets” collaboration – but many don’t really know how to talk about it with real business value in a workplace context. This is why we worked recently with 10Eighty to engage 100 leading HR and L&D practitioners to understand how businesses can harness collaborative working.

It quickly became clear there two camps of understanding- those who thought about collaborative working either in terms of the business benefits it could bring; or simply as a process through which work was organised.

Among those thinking mainly of the business benefits we found:

a) Over 7/10 (72%) said they thought of collaborative working as a way to bring together a broad range of talents to a project or task;

b) More than 6/10 (62%) said they considered it as a means to break down silos in an organisation;

c) A third of those who replied (37%) saw it as working in ways that “unleash energy” in an organisation;

Among those thinking mostly about collaborative working more as a process:

  1. Over half (55%) believed the collaborative working simply meant working on projects or tasks in close physical proximity to one another;
  2. A significant minority of over 4/10 (43%) believed that collaborative working effectively meant “making decisions by consensus”.

It’s heartening to see that both CEDR and we both believe that collaboration, when explained simply as a process with no clear line of sight to the business benefits, leads to confusion rather than clarity. One leading blue-chip HR director put it superbly well in our recent report: “When creating a debate around collaboration in your organisation, start with the end in mind. Those who successfully introduce more collaborative forms of working into their organisation do so by first understanding and then explaining its benefits to other stakeholders, rather than attempting to “sell” the detail of the process too soon to their colleagues.”

Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

3 Rules to Encourage Participation

How many online communities are you “part of” but rarely frequent? Or have you started an online group only to let your efforts wither? We start with the best of intentions but without active reminders to participate or create content, we simply won’t.

Usually the simplest answer is best. When working with clients, we have found that a concise but regular notification via good old fashioned email to community members is a necessary short-term evil for getting momentum. How do you do this without causing aggravation among those you are trying to reach?

Set yourself 3 rules.

  1. Recipients will be low on time and tolerance, so make your message clear and brief. You have to get your message across quickly – and the more targeted you can make it the better.
  2. Encourage a specific action as a result of reading the email, rather than just imparting general information.
  3. Once 1) and 2) start to deliver increased traffic and participation, reduce the frequency of email – if new habits are becoming truly ingrained the community will start to become self-sustaining over time.
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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Blogs: Think you can’t write? Speak instead …

If you think you can’t write, why not speak instead? For those who struggle with writing – and every day I hear from people who tell me they do – I recommend that you rediscover the lost art of dictation.

Employers used to employ teams of typists. Whether working in a FTSE business or as a soletrader or SME, you probably can’t afford to do this. If you are the boss, you are unlikely to have a PA taking notes as you speak. Or indeed, you may be the PA. It doesn’t matter who you are– we all have something to say. And we are blessed today with affordable voice recognition software.

I tell clients who tell me they can’t write to speak instead. It takes a supreme mental effort to assemble the right words in your head in the right order, so don’t. Just talk as you would normally. If your words come out in a jumble, so be it.

It’s time to rediscover dictation. Like everything else, writing is a habit. Whatever is in your head, just get it out. The wonders of technology allow you to see on screen or paper what you have been saying and you will find it easier to edit quickly. Soon you will be creating something you didn’t know you had in you.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.