A year ago I began working on a project to help build a collaboration platform for a global company.  Sure, I can do that. Then I asked everyone I met with, “Define collaboration.”   There were lots of answers, but they mostly ended up sounding like this:

    “We’re not exactly sure what collaboration is, but we know it is GOOD.”

    Some strategic thinkers said things like “Our people are smart and ready to contribute – but we don’t seem to be able to get them connected.” or “How do you measure the ROI on Collaboration?”  More tactical folks summed up the situation like this: “It would be success just to get time zones right and AV equipment that works everywhere.”

    I quickly remembered Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and realized that there is a Hierarchy of Collaboration Needs for global companies. I think it looks like this:

    Just as in Maslow’s hierarchy that says you must have items to Survive before you can seek Comfort or Self-Actualization, companies need to be able to manage simple daily operations across multiple time zones – handing off projects to follow the sun, conduct effective video conferences and manage buildings and space to allow work to occur anywhere. Only then should they look for advancements in crowd sourcing and improving judgements through diverse business predictions.

    Its a simple idea, but one that impressed Tammy Erickson a thought leader in this space. Tammy works to help businesses plan for the changing world of work as in her book plugged in.  

    Want to learn more? Stay tuned to this blog for more posts on collaborating.