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Collaboration vs Communication

I recently read a very short article on CMO.com regarding “Collaboration vs Communication and Why It Matters.” The article makes some good points but could expound on the topic overall. Let me give you my take on this. We see a lot of companies today attempting to redo their intranet, development processes, etc. Almost without fail, more than a few think that collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Stride, Chatter, and other tools are the perfect replacement as THE medium of communication. Very few remain supporters of more traditional one to many communication tools that web content tools provide.

Don’t get me wrong; I love these types of tools. I see their benefit. However, they don’t fit every single use case. In reality, when you think about collaboration and communication, you need to think through how to support multiple use cases. Let me walk through a few

Collaboration and Stream of Thought (Many to Many)

Tools like Slack and Chatter manage this use case very well. It’s stream of thought. It’s meant to be referenced often and can be searched. You keep up with this type of medium and hopefully interact with it.  It’s good for:

  • Keeping up to date
  • Asking questions and receiving answers to questions
  • Knowledge about really esoteric items
  • Up to the minute communication (e.g. really new items)

It also has one key drawback: news you want everyone to see and understand will quickly drown in a sea of comments and content.

News and Key Communications (one to many)

Under this scenario, you gain the ability push key news and information to the top. Project Managers, HR, Corporate Communications, Executive Leadership, and others tend to like this because it helps you get the key information to the top of the stream and it isn’t as easily lost.

Web content management tools tend to be the best at this.

Source of Knowledge and Reference (one to many)

While somewhat related to news and key communications, reference information differs enough to merit its own category.  This scenario deals with reference material and ongoing knowledge. Anyone who has downloaded detailed specifications in PDF form or gone to a wiki to lookup answers to questions understands this scenario.

What tools work best for this type of need?

  1. Wikis
  2. File storage and other tools
  3. Possibly web content but it’s a bit iffy

Bottom Line

Note that I don’t denigrate any of these tools. Each has their place. I strongly suggest however that you don’t try to use one tool to fit all scenarios. All too often I see the new and cool tools touted as the solution to it all.  If I had a dollar for the number of Slack and Chatter/Community users who think that’s a perfect intranet solution for example. My suggestion: think through what you want to achieve and how you want to pass on this knowledge. Then expect to use two to three of these scenarios.

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