In the time we’ve been operating, we’ve noticed a steady increase in demand for tools and technologies that enable teams to collaborate more broadly, more efficiently and more effectively. One of the most striking things that’s come of this trend may seem obvious, but it’s harder to put into practice than you might imagine.
Perhaps it’s fault of all the glossy marketing that surrounds technology – words like ‘plug & play’, ‘seamless’ and ‘fully integrated’ make it sound like tech will magically solve your organisation’s problems, no assembly required. And while that’s true to some extent, we’ve consistently found the best results come from the combination of technology and culture. While we at the Modern Workplace Alliance pride ourselves on our knowledge of the technology, it’s the culture piece that is unique to every organisation, which is why collaboration becomes so important in every project.
Collaborative project teams tend to deliver the best collaborative tools.
We often start by asking questions and, crucially, listening to the answers. In the case of Chemical Manufacturer IXOM, we applied a keen focus on senior executive and end-user engagement to ensure we had a thorough understanding of the current environment. By making these users an extension of the project team, we stayed in tune with how the technology could best serve the organisation, while building a culture of ‘technology champions’ – people who understood the benefits of the new tools and were happy to spread the word amongst their peers.
Walk a mile in your users’ shoes.
While developing a collaborative platform for the Australian Taxation Office, we used Microsoft Teams to create a project environment for a geographically distributed team, working against the clock and across time zones. Putting the tools in a real-world environment accelerated our understanding of how users would adapt and how change should be managed across the organisation to ensure success. Similarly, Amart Furniture took us on a journey into the world of their frontline staff, to understand how information flows back and forth across their rapidly-growing organisation. The insights we generated together led to fast yet successful rollout of a completely new collaboration platform that is changing the way managers and staff share market knowledge.
You have to collaborate to collaborate
It sounds obvious yet it’s surprising how many organisations try to outsource understanding or install technology before thinking through the real objectives. After so many successful implementations of collaboration and productivity tools, we’ve learned to stick to the golden rule: If the project team delivering your collaboration tools is not itself collaborating to develop insights together and build a common strategy, that’s your first sign you might be heading in the wrong direction.
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