Collaboration Tools Are Stuck in an Old Model of Work


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years ago, we wrote about the unpredictable nature of collaboration and
how the focus on collaboration tools doesn’t support the way people
would ideally like to work together. Surprisingly, the same issues
still exist today. The tools have improved, but they stay in their
category boxes of either real-time collaboration (exemplified by online
meeting software, such as WebEx, and IM or chat session), or persistent
collaboration (such as email and specific team workspaces).

After reading this report, let us know how you collaboration both
in-house with colleagues and across organizations with customers and
suppliers. Then let us know how you would like to collaborate. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Moving along the Time- (Team-) Space Continuum
Collaboration Is Both Real-Time and Persistent, and Often Unanticipated
By Ronni T. Marshak, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, March 18, 2010
(A PSG Classic – Originally Published April 2006)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ronni Marshak
Patricia Seybold Group
Ronni Marshak co-developed Patricia Seybold Group's Customer Scenario® Mapping (CSM) methodology with Patricia Seybold and PSGroup's customers. She runs the CSM methodology practice, including training, certification, and licensing. She identifies, codifies, and updates the recurring patterns in customers' ideal scenarios, customers' moments of truth, and customer metrics that she discovers across hundreds of customer co-design sessions.


  1. Ronni: You raise some very interesting points. It seems that people are defining the tools as collaboration, not aids to collaboration. I don’t know how many articles or speeches I’ve read talking about telepresence, webinars, shared workspaces as collaboration. They couldn’t be more wrong–though it does sell hardware, software, and services.

    As you discuss, collaboration is about how people work–in particular, how they work together. Collaboration is about the alignment of goals and objectives between people, functions, and organizations. Successful collaboration requires shared vision, values, resources, rewards, and risks. Collaboration requires skills in managing differences.

    Without these strong foundations in place, the tools provide no value. The discussion of collaboration needs to focus on how we do it effectivley, when collaboration may not be the desired course of action, etc. The discussion of tools should then focus on how they support this.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion. Regards, Dave

  2. You’re right, Dave, Sometimes collaboration isn’t exactly what you want to do. When writing, the approval process, for example, is not necessarily collaborative, but more sequential work for a number of people. Just because many hands touch something, doesn’t mean you are “collaborating.” However, you are working together to complete something, such as having a publishable document. You needs technology to support each individual as well as the sharing or collaboration in ways that make sense for the goal.


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