A positive aspect of the old adage ‘when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’, is that you should always be looking for new ways to use tools and increase your efficiencies.  For this reason I think that collaboration across both internal and external partners may be the next ‘frontier’ in improving efficiencies.  This should also be a very prominent benefit that you call out in your collaboration business case justification and value proposition for developing and expanding your collaboration partnerships.  In this example however you are not solving a problem, you are discovering additional and valuable uses of your current tools set. 

I want to reiterate though that it is important to focus on the process and how one of your current tools can support the process and not the reverse.  The evaluation should focus on support of the process, in the case of using tools across, or between, your partners it is important to maintain this focus on the process.  Obviously the evaluation of process across your partners can be more complicated because of differences in culture, language or definition and tools.  This is an important activity to complete and this can also be a complicated activity and for those reasons the effort and focus should not be shorted.  Don’t let the complication stop you from taking on the challenge though, I believe that this activity can bring the single greatest value to your collaboration initiative.

Collaboration doesn’t just happen because you want it to, its not something that you will into being.  It takes hard work and planning in order to be successful.  Success in collaboration is a little like technology such as an iphone or android phone.  By this I mean that the end result of a successful tool like a smartphone looks very simple but the underlying workings are very complicated and required a great deal of effort and planning to put into place.  Collaboration, as I mention, has an even higher level of complication because of all of the different people, organizations, cultures, regulations and laws that can come into play.  This level of complication requires practices, principles procedures and tools in order to successful.  When your collaborative partnership is successful all of your efforts and tools will harness and direct the complication in a manner that makes the collaboration seem natural and simple.

The tools that I have been discussing that you incorporate to improve your personal efficiencies can also be utilized to support and enhance your collaboration capabilities.   Your framework to access and utilize tools across platforms can just as easily be utilized to support your collaboration capabilities across internal and external organizations.  This framework will also improve the efficiencies of your collaboration capabilities and as a result will improve the efficiencies of all of the participating partners.  Again though, the tools must support your process and procedures in order to bring together the capabilities to meet and succeed in those processes and procedures. 

Simplicity is hard and takes a lot of planning and effort so don’t underestimate the effort involved in successfully delivering efficiencies through collaboration.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

Have you discussed efficiencies with your collaborative partners?  What kind of tricks do you practice when you are multi-tasking?  How does technology impact your ability to mutli-task?  How does the blurring of the professional and personal aspects impact your life?