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When It Comes to Online Collaboration, It's the People and Not the Tools



It has been a long time since Lotus Notes defined the groupware category of collaboration software and Microsoft followed with SharePoint in 2001.  Since then, collaboration software has evolved and new approaches to collaboration have emerged based on social media (such as Yammer).

Business can choose from many collaboration platforms, some of which are free or included (like SharePoint) in widely deployed office suites.

What has not changed is that collaboration itself is a human activity.  Even the best collaboration tools are worth nothing without the participation of users.

Encouraging adoption for collaboration is more difficult than driving adoption of products which empower individual users.  For group projects, have only 80 percent of the participants using the collaboration tool often means failure of the tool for the project.

One of the best techniques to encourage adoption is to have managers and senior staff lead by example.  If they adopt collaboration tools and techniques, others are more likely to follow.

Another tip is to start small and try to avoid cumbersome governance policies unless absolutely necessary.  If you start by laying down rules of behavior that are difficult to follow, users will quickly learn that they should avoid the collaboration system rather than take risks in sharing.

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