Collaboration and Chess


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One of the things I love about chess is that the variations of moves in a game are virtually endless. There are more possible moves in a chess game then there are atoms in the entire universe and more moves then there are seconds that have elapsed since the big bang. All of this, on a tiny 8×8 wooden board with little figurines. This means that no two chess games played are ever the same.

I use this analogy quite frequently in the world of collaboration because quite often I casually get asked for things such as which tools I recommend a company deploy or what will make a successful a deployment. It’s hard to answer this question because it’s like asking someone what the best move in chess is, to which the answer is always “it depends on the position.” Any good chess player spends time looking at what the position of the pieces is before they make their move. As in the collaboration world there is some pattern recognition or common things that can be applied but for the most part you are evaluating things after each move is played.

Typically in a game of chess as more moves are made the game becomes more complex. More pieces are scattered around the board and you need to constantly look out for traps while evaluating various positions and then making what you think is the best move. While it is important to think about what the first moves are when deploying collaboration tools and strategies it’s not possible to predict what the game is going to look like a few moves down the road. More moves means more complexity and so as we get more involved we have more to think about, things that we don’t always know we need to consider when first starting. In chess we have computers which can run through endless combinations and scenarios and then tell players what the best move is, this is course is not allowed during a real game. However, in the collaboration world we don’t have these computers, we have no predictions, and nothing to tell us if the move we made is the best one. It’s just us humans. This is part of what makes things challenging yet also fun and interesting. It’s also why it’s so important to remember that obstacles, or as some like to call them, failures, are going to be inevitable, it’s just the nature of the game. Sometimes you will make a move and then realize it’s the wrong one or that a better move was possible. It’s called learning. Unlike a chess game though, in collaboration you can usually take a move back or replay the position, sometimes you need to start a new game.

It’s important to remember these things when investing time, resources, and effort in collaboration because there is no one size fits all approach. There is no “best” tool or linear process that every company can take. As in chess you can learn the various moves that each piece can make but how you play the game is going to be entirely unique to your company. The world of emergent enterprise collaboration is still fairly new and in fact has really started gaining prominence in just the last few years. It’s a fun space to be in and I love it. Every client is a new position which needs to be looked at and evaluated to make the right move. There are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration.

The one main thing that chess and collaboration have in common is that at the end of the day we’re trying to capture the king, but how we do it is going to be different every time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jacob Morgan
I'm a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and futurist who explores what the future of work is going to look like and how to create great experiences so that employees actually want to show up to work. I've written three best-selling books which are: The Employee Experience Advantage (2017), The Future of Work (2014), and The Collaborative Organization (2012).


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