Collaboration Services – Leadership

Technology today drives “the way” (methods) in which most of us collaborate.  Successful collaboration depends on “collaboration patterns” which are independent of specific technologies.  The mistake many people make is to depend on commercial collaboration technologies without investing the time and resources to understand the complexity.

Organizational success for collaboration services depends on the overall understanding of various collaboration patterns relative to the organization coupled with a comprehensive and clear understanding of current and future capabilities.

For this post, I am sharing a few simple tools that I use with my team in order to help us understand collaboration patterns.   The results of the work we do as a team enable us to “align” requirements and capabilities.   The basics apply across many industries and can be applied with some minor modifications.

Mission:  What we are doing now.

Vision: What we are doing later.

Goals: What we want to achieve.

Objectives: More specificity in goal setting at a more granular level.

Activities: Things we need to do to achieve the goals.


This may be expressed as one page or less with no more than three key statements or ideas for each.  These can be tied by relationship to a more complex product or document. 

Do not discount simplicity.  Collaboration services will become complex very quickly with the addition or mapping of business to capability to technology.  Each piece is moving at a pace which is always in misalignment.

Example: Business changes direction due to market change,  required capabilities for collaboration patterns change, technology in place may or may not support required functions.  Dramatic misalignment calls for technological enhancement, augmentation or replacement.  For every piece of collaboration services,  any change will drive a wave of activities.

At the highest level of context, we may understand the needs of the organization as a whole but as we dive into various business areas or mission areas, we need to look at how these relate to baseline services.

Example:  What basic services does everyone in an organization need?  What services models need support and what kind of support?  Email is a great example of a collaboration service that is common across over 95% of an organization.  I recognize that people are trying to limit their dependency on email.  While in some cases we may be able to limit our reliance on email, it is still an important basic capability and it will be until something vendor-agnostic replaces it.

In Practice: Collaboration Services

  • Base level capabilities required for most people in an organization. (Most likely a long list)
  • Add-on for Purpose required by a business, business unit, organizational unit in order to perform work that is distinct from or adds onto the base level capability.

These services allow people to

  • Work and communicate from where they are in a secure manner consistent with their individual organization.
  • In the context of mission, goals, objectives
  • Interconnections and Extraconnection, meaning with the internal and external people or systems they need to interact with.
  • In scope and understanding of organizational culture, related to the type of industry, people in their organization and global considerations.
  • Making Information and expressed knowledge visible, reusable, understandable.

From ABC 123

Collaboration service technologies are complicated beyond other cloud-based services because many people believe that home use and organizational use are consistent or should be consistent.   While some aspects of collaboration services at home are the same or at least feel the same, they are very different.   The main reason for the difference beyond technology and capability is the context and use case.

People use their phones, email, text, cloud storage and other digital capabilities in their personal lives.  The consumer technology and enterprise services have blended in regard to capability over the years.  Part of the reason is for the benefit of the public and part of it (mostly) is a reduction in development costs for vendors.   It also gives companies a focus on services delivered.  The other benefit is people are familiar with the technology.  This is a benefit but it is also a cost.   Sharing something from a personal cloud storage service is very different from a legal perspective vs sharing from an enterprise service.  Technologically, it may feel exactly the same.

Collaboration Pattern List

  • External Environment(s)
  • Internal Environment (s)
  • Collaboration Environments and Interconnections (strands of connections)
  • Listed context of collaboration (Project, Epic, Charter, Narrative)
  • Preconditions for collaboration
  • Rules, governance, and constraints
  • Security (Cyber)

A collaboration pattern or set of patterns is always driven by the context of the strategy.  A poorly structured strategy with flawless technological service will result in failure.  The key to success in collaboration services is the consistent communication between collaboration service managers and stakeholders.

Want more on this subject?  Let me know..