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The Collaboration Police September 5, 2007

Posted by Jeff in collaboration, corporate.
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In these matters the only certainty is that nothing is certain – Pliny the Elder

One of the things that I really love about web 2.0 is the lack of constraints in the tools – you don’t need to change your style to fit the tooling… it’s the other way around. *Note that I am talking about categories of collaborative tools (blogs, wikis, etc.) here rather than specific products. For example, if I want to share meeting minutes with a wide, geographically dispersed team I could use a blog, a wiki, or even some shared document space such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The point is, the choice is mine – the content producer.

Unfortunately, this kind of approach becomes much more difficult in the corporate world because there is usually a department, team, etc. that “owns” different aspects of the day-to-day business (i.e. a document management group, an intranet team, etc). These groups like to define “standards” and “best-practices” for their area of responsibility. So on the one side we have tools and technologies that are most effective when driven by user needs and emergent relationships. And on the other side we have, for lack of a better description, the “Collaboration Police” (the modern cousin of Peopleware‘s “Furniture Police” – maybe more closely aligned with the Virtual Furniture Police). It’s not that there is no value in some internal guidance on Enterprise 2.0 tools and technologies. It’s just that the role needs to be more of a “champion” than an enforcer.

Just as traditional Waterfall methodologies in software development are now generally seen as too restrictive and are being replaced with Agile methodologies – the Collaboration Police need to stop the analysis paralysis and learn to embrace change.

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