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Digital Transformation

Collaboration is a Culture, Not a Set of Tools

Troy Larsen at has an article entitled, “Collaboration is a Culture, Not a Set of Tools” (Thanks to Erin Moloney (@ErinE) for pointing me to the article) In it he speaks to a recent quote from RedHat CEO Jim Whitehurst giving that short and spiffy little sound bit.

while collaboration is an important characteristic of successful companies, tools alone won’t get you there. Whitehurst believes that if collaboration isn’t already something ingrained in the corporate culture, then it doesn’t matter how many or what kind of collaboration tools you have. “You can’t buy your way to collaboration.

Frankly, I can’t argue against it.  I remember once early in my career when I decided to sit the office down and teach them the value of a spreadsheet.   So I sat with about 8 people who used the old calculators with a tape roll all day and walked them through SUM, AVG, and a bunch of other cool uses for a spreadsheet.  At the end of the day, one lady looked at me and flat out told me she would never use spreadsheet.  When I pointed out that one mistake on her calculator forced her to start over she told me she didn’t care and then off she went.  Now that’s an example of someone who won’t use a better tool no matter what in front of him or her.

That brings me to the next part of Troy’s post:

Most managers believe that if you acquire a collaboration tool, collaboration will start to happen. Unfortunately, achieving successful collaboration is a lot more difficult than that. Whitehurst is right to believe that collaboration tools cannot be the foundation of a collaborative culture, however if used correctly, these tools can serve as that last needed push helping drive your team to success.

Here’s the key, even collaborative cultures have failed collaboration tools.   When we fail to plan, fail to engage the users, fail to train them, and fail to give them tools that are actually useful, then that collaborative tool is just another toy on the shelf.  So for all the social and collaboration vendors out there, please remember that your tool enable collaboration.  It’s not in and of itself collaboration.  Literally every social collaboration tool out there should be as easy as dropbox to use.  If it’s not, then you failed…………….

Thoughts on “Collaboration is a Culture, Not a Set of Tools”

  1. I recently did a few blog posts on this topic of culture looking at the Silos structures.
    Here is the link to #3 which references the first 2 as well.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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