Comment by John Powers
Christina tweeted a link 8 Things You Need To Know About Collaboration. The post was thought provoking especially the simple point that collaboration isn’t the same as cooperation or coordination. I also liked that Arseneault then points to links by Dave Pollard whose blog is one of my favorite rabbit holes to fall into.
Here's Pollard's requirements for collaboration:
Collaboration entails finding the right group of people (skills, personalities, knowledge, work-styles, and chemistry), ensuring they share commitment to the collaboration task at hand, and providing them with an environment, tools, knowledge, training, process and facilitation to ensure they work together effectively.
There's also a great chart at that link and if that's not enough Pollard, Arseneault also points to this link which provides some examples of awesome collaboration.
If we note that cooperation and coordination aren't the same as collaboration and we want to encourage collaboration, it seems worth considering how cooperation and coordination are important to it.
This morning I read an interesting post connecting social media and open space technology.
One of the problems is figuring out how to accomplish a safe and productive online working space which usually means "closed" while being open enough to pull in people and resources you never knew about.
I think Ned is a very special platform. One of the things that distinguishes is how helpful people are here. I think of David Bale and how he's facilitated so many projects.
I'm half-way making this up because I don't know where to look for the link, but read it somewhere. An organization was using network analysis for learning. They were trying to identify there most crucial employees--probably with lay offs in mind. So they had a list of titles and qualifications from which they selected their indispensable employees. Running a network analysis of projects they identified an employee who didn't make it to the first list. But every project where she was involved was a success. What was it she did? I forget all the terms but the general pattern was that she was able to help others chuck up the project into workable parts. She was quick to identify information project members needed to clarify questions. She was able to identify member's strengths and to point them to productive involvement. And a bunch of other stuff ;-)
Sometimes projects and collaborative efforts are lucky enough to have someone who is particularly good at mentoring process skills; most of the time project members have to try to remind themselves to help facilitate the group.
I like very open public online spaces; that is space where group members can share between the group and where people outside the group can visit. But collaboration is serious work and too public a space can seem a time waster.
Google Wave has some interesting characteristics. One of the things I like about it is how tangents to the initial conversation can branch off but still remain connected to the original thread. There is a great deal of control over who can participate in what parts of the conversation. And it is possible to easily edit a final draft--which might be shared publicly by exporting it to a different space. Getting people to use Google Wave seems tough, still I want to mention it. To make it useful to the group encouraging the installation of a Google Wave notifier is a good idea. This is the one I"m using and there are others, especially noteworthy a Firefox plugin for those using Firefox. Of course in organizations people may not be able to install such software.
Here are are a couple suggestions:
Make the online group space a fun place to be. I know it will set Linda's hair on fire, but screen names have their place. The tyranny of anonymity is offset if group members know who's behind the screen names. Screen names can help with the confidentiality versus public viewing.
Use collaboration tools to produce content but export as much as is suitable to a more open space.