creative, connective and compounding collaboration, revisited

A couple of months ago I introduced some words to describe different types of collaboration – what they can achieve, what the obstacles are. ..

Here’s the next generation of that thinking of what I believe are the 3 fundamental models of collaboration….

1. Creative – this is the kind of collaboration where you have an explicit team, and an explicit goal “Marketing launch of new product” or “widget redesign” or “budget planning”, or whatever.

you have a group of people who all have some stake in or some contribution to be made to the outcome.  you sit (literally, virtutally or figuratively) at the table working out how to get things done, then you go off and do them, checking in at intervals on progress and issues that come up.

2. Connective – this is the “connecting the dots” problem – While working your day to day work, you “hear” from the extended organization in ways that let you find similarities, serendipities, trends and patterns in information or ideas.

The most infamous example of this type of collaboration is in the intelligence community – ever since 9/11 it is a security imperative to make sure that information silos don’t prevent people from identifying important trends and patterns in information. Like there are bad guys learning to fly airplanes and get visas into the US.

This is one area where the new concepts in social media are driving fantastic progress and innovation, but also one of the most deviously tricky problems to solve. Its extremely difficult to find and measure those things that might exist, but you can’t be sure.

In spite of this interesting challenge, progress is being made.

3. Compounding.

This is the idea that if you can find it, you build on what has been done before.  So – if I know what resources Joe used to respond to an RFP, then I can refer to the same sources for similar information. If I’m bringing a new analyst up to speed, I can give them access to all the people, resources and assets that I routinely use to get work done, enabling him to begin to do the same. Instead of creating a new powerpoint template, i can focus on the content of the darn thing.

Also challenging and less well understood than you might think, the goal of compounding is what spawned the ill fated “knowledge management” initiatives of the 90’s which attempted to codify the un-codifiable.

98% of knowledge in an organization is tacit – that is to say not officially documented, tabulated and indexed. So trying to find it in traditional ways is difficult. Again, social media has made dramatic contributions here – collecting the tiny comments and questions, the who asked who answered and what did they refer to that heretofore has been lost in email trails that go cold and die….

more on what to do with these ideas later….



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