One of the talks that I really enjoyed at the IoIC conference last week was Angela Ashenden’s on making social collaboration work. What was great about it, in my opinion, was that she had some really practical points, so I’m going to share them with you!

The business case for better collaboration – what to tell your leaders:

  • Better sharing of knowledge and best practices
  • Driving innovation and business differentiation
  • Connecting and enabling distributed teams
  • Building better relationships with partners and customers

Three pillars of a collaborative organisation are:

  1. A networked and non-hierarchical structure
  2. An open, honest and trusting culture
  3. An engaged and valued workforce

Blockers to collaborative success – what to watch out for:

  • Resistance to change
  • Habits are hard to break
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Middle management blocking adoption
  • ‘Collaboration tool fatigue‘ –social collaboration overkill!
  •  Lack of time and opportunity
  • Inadequate strategy and investment

Angela’s top collaboration tips:

  • ake a strategic approach: lay secure foundations and understand your business need first. Then clarify budget and secure ownership.
  • Adoption needs to be multi-pronged – and it needs leaders behind it
  • Don’t leave adoption to chance: it’s not just about top-down and bottom-up, middle managers are vital too and if they don’t understand the value of what you are doing to the work that needs to be delivered, then it won’t happen.
  • Educate don’t just train: build an advocate network to help extend your reach. Some people might question this but it’s really important to see the viral strategy.
  • Incentivise behaviour: you want to encourage people to be more creative and collaborative, it’s not just about using the tool.

Four social collaboration tech pitfalls:

  1. Don’t use a cheap option
  2. Avoid too much too soon
  3. Don’t try and replace email completely
  4. Avoid creating new silos of information

What success looks like – measuring collaboration return on investment:
Don’t forget to benchmark before you start so you have something to compare it with and can measure the impact. Success is meeting your stated goals, they can vary, but some examples are:

  • Reduced travel and time costs
  • Reduced call centre costs
  • Cost saving through re-use of ideas and materials
  • Faster on boarding for new joiners, getting answers quickly
  • Improved employee engagement and retention
  • Fast time to market

And Angela's final tip for success: measure impacts and outcomes NOT adoption and usage rates. If Angela’s advice isn’t enough for you, then give us a bell and someone will be happy to talk to you!