This week, Gartner issued a press release in support of their recent PPM and IT Governance Summit entitled "5 collaboration myths." Number one myth on their list? "The right tools will make us collaborative."
Perhaps this sounds heretical from someone working for Avaya, especially as we significantly increase focus on collaboration technologies and solutions, but I wholeheartedly agree with Gartner's statement.
A couple of months ago, I took part in some Avaya leadership training, and we spent a good bit of time discussing corporate norms and behaviors that had the potential to limit our success. A lot of this dialog centered around increasing the value and effectiveness of collaboration across Avaya organizations, our customers and our channels.
You've undoubtedly heard the adage "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."
Most businesses should have a similar saying -- "You can provide collaboration tools, but you cannot make 'em collaborate."
Effective collaboration (and the key word here is "effective") requires more than just putting powerful, intuitive tools in the hands of your users and customers. It requires a mindset to commit oneself to exploiting the benefits of these tools, and doing so consistently and with purpose.
As an example, I have a peer who refuses to use instant messaging tools, viewing them as intrusive. This individual doesn't want to be bothered by ad-hoc, distracting messages from anyone and everyone, demanding instant attention to their questions and interruptions.
I can understand that. But there are times, particularly when we are on a conference call with customers, channel partners, or peers, that instant messaging and multi-party chat capabilities can be a powerful back-channel, testing proposals and verifying facts before speaking publicly.
The fact that my peer is simply unwilling to use the collaboration tools put in front of them under any circumstances, simply because there are certain circumstances (many circumstances, perhaps) where they find the tool to be less than ideal, means the overall collaboration experience in which they participate is certainly less than ideal. And, in turn, that makes everyone involved in the collaboration effort less effective.
Gartner explains that "Technology can make it easier to collaboration when applications mirror a more intuitive, fluid work style, but selecting a tool without addressing the roles, processes, metrics and the organization's workplace climate is putting the cart before the horse."
Or, as I said at our leadership team discussion, "Collaboration is a mindset, not a toolset."
So as your organization considers the metrics and KPI's you'll use you measure the value of investments in collaboration technologies, take time to also assess your organizations mental fortitude and attitude to make collaboration itself work effectively. It could make a major impact to your ROI calculations.