10 Reasons Your Team Won’t Collaborate
Can 10 ever be simple?
I recently received an email, “A great one-minute video on the 10 tools that can be leveraged to improve collaboration across teams and connect instantly.” I had to stop for a second and think, “Hey, I use our collaboration tools, could I name all 10?” Needless to say the answer was a resounding NO! Heck, I could only come up with 4. Maybe I had finally turned into the technology Luddite we always joked about. But in talking to some of my peers, I found that I was not the exception, I was the rule!
These tools just didn’t just appear from nowhere. Each took time and money to purchase, build and rollout. Each required significant ongoing care and feeding. Was this really time and money well spent if no one knew about them? What had gone wrong?
Was this a matter of poor design or maybe poor communication? But then I remembered a study on “the Art of Choice” performed by Sheena Iyengar in 1995. <Sheena Iyengar: The Art of Choosing> She evaluated people’s buying patterns based on the number of product choices. In a California grocery store she set up two scenarios. In one the customers had a choice of 24 jams, in another they had a choice of 6. On average the customers who stopped sampled 2 jams. The larger assortment attracted more tasters, 60% versus 40%. However, when it came time to buy, 30% of those that had been presented with the choice of 6 Jams actually purchased the product, while a dismal 3% of those exposed to the larger selection of 24 did.
Professor Iyengar highlighted that the study “raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory, but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.” This same experiment has been repeated with a whole host of products and services, and in the end the results are consistent. Increased choices actually discourage people from adopting or purchasing the product or service.
This is an important lesson for companies looking to enable collaboration and creativity. More spot solutions will not achieve the desired outcome of forming virtual bonds and may actually degrade the effectiveness of the collaboration and relationships that people already have.
Reduce the Angst
So what is a company to do as new and novel tools and working concepts come hurtling towards them?
1. Understand the behavior you are trying to enable
2. Don’t be afraid to kill tools and ideas that have outlived their usefulness
3. Simplify and bundle
Understand the behavior you are trying to enable
Often the terms social and collaboration are thrown around with little regard for what they mean for a company. Do you have geographically disperse teams working on a project? Do you employ freelancers that come and go? Is the issue one of trying to create a sense of community for members of the organization that work remotely and rarely have the opportunity to interact face to face? Each of these cases has very different requirements and needs different solutions. Understand what you are trying to solve for, and that one size does not fit all.
Don’t be afraid to kill tools and ideas that have outlived their usefulness
The collaboration space has changed significantly over the last 10 years. Just because Jive was the collaboration darling in 2009 does not mean that it is the right platform for your multinational organization in 2016. These tools are often championed from the bottom up. Continually layering on overlapping tools and processes leads to fragmentation, confusion and frustration. When half of the HR department uses one tool and the other half uses another, then the purpose of collaboration is defeated.
Simplify and bundle
Insulate team members from the underlying complexity. Companies might have multiple tools that are used for virtual meetings. For this meeting are we using round-table, what about Polycomm, how about Google Hangouts, and what the heck are those in the first place? Rather than promote each tool separately, put them into overall suites that are used by team members. They don’t have to know that to conduct a meeting they are actually using 3 different products. This trend towards enterprise collaboration suites has been underway in the market for the last 5 years. If a group can’t wait for an enterprise tool, they can create one themselves.
Moving forward with simplicity
As companies look to create a collaborative and creative atmosphere in an ever complex working environment, they need to leverage tools than make collaboration a natural extension of the work activities. The integration should be as simple and organic as possible. Limiting the options is a great starting point to get the team to pick up new tools.