Collaboration Pattern

I get a lot of phone calls and emails about the “secret sauce” with community management.  The key to having a successful community is facilitation in context.   Matt Sutton, Wendy Woodson and I have been working on the challenges of collaboration for a long time.   As a Community Manager in the DoD, I have found that everything begins with People, Process, Methods first and Tools last.  Most programs and projects start with tools and try to make their people, process and methods fit.    I am posting some slides which is an introduction to the collaboration pattern and I will follow with some short notes on the different areas and lessons learned.



  1. Great brief, Matt, Wendy and Howie!

    In order to make this briefing even more powerful, I think that we need to add a further decomposition to the collaboration requirements you address.

    Two factors affect the way people react to each other in virtual work environments, at least according to the current literature. The factors are Trust (as you wisely pointed out) and Performance (which affects what you’ve labeled SARA). Too often, I think, we have to spend more time building trust than we need to because we’ve not connected ourselves to each other correctly. We have to “see” and “hear” each other first to believe in each other. When we have had time to do that, we then have Trust. With trust, we will have Performance.

    Ever since we were babies, we have learned most about our world through visualization, reading faces, non-verbal body language–(you know the old saw about 70% of communication is non-verbal!). Along with looking, we are also very good at listening to what we see to interpret what we’re seeing. However, in most technology-enabled collaboration, we have neither! We use text, as I’m doing here. Without skills or practice in reading these visual and auditory cues, we become vulnerable to the same disability than characterisizes people suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorders who are known for not being able to accurately understand social cues. In a more sinister implication, this disability is what identifies the sociopath who has no empathy with others. We must not allow our teams to fall prey to these dangers!

    I would suggest that without the ability to see each other or to hear each other’s voices, we make it much harder to believe that we can trust the other person. This means that our “visualization” requirements must not just talk about the data and information we’re using to perform; it means we must have a way to look at each other and listen to each other as we work. Then…as we develop Trust, our need for such visual-auditory connection fades allowing us to concentrate just on the content of the project. Capabilities like FaceTime or Skype can fill the bill for now but the ideal would be an ability to see and hear each other life-size. Flat panel displays can do this but since most personal computers are built for the “Data” in its paper format, we don’t think about the need to see each other “through” the screen as if it were a “window” between places.

    As always, you’re right on track and making great profess. Thanks for keeping me inspired!



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