Definitions are important. While misunderstandings don't always cause harm – for instance, when I ask my British friend for my purse and he hands me my wallet or the confusion between "first floor" and "ground floor" (or "lift" and "elevator" for that matter) – they can have serious repercussions in the workplace. A lack of clear definitions in organizations can negatively impact productivity, time and resources. It often leads to unproductive meetings and discussions, results in hurt feelings and can even affect employee engagement. Besides, how do you even measure the success of something that isn't clearly defined?
"Collaboration" is one of those words that can have various interpretations in the workplace. It's often used as a catchall to talk about not only how we communicate and work together, but as a buzzword to describe the apps, solutions and gadgets we use as well. IT may use the term "collaboration" when referring to workplace productivity tools, while a community manager might have a broader definition that encompasses the way teams interact with those tools and each other to spur innovation. No wonder people are confused! The more global enterprises become, the more we need to work with people we've never met and with tools we've never used. Just as "purse" can have different meanings in different parts of the world, collaboration risks even more misinterpretation due to factors such as geographical location and the cultural differences between employees.
So how do we define collaboration? Nicole Fuselier, Viavi Solutions' Director of Digital Strategy, dives into this issue in her new article for ITProPortal, "Defining successful enterprise collaboration and communication." Nicole talks about how IT departments generally measures collaboration success as the implementation of tools that employees can collaborate with, rather than the solutions they actually do use to work together. She also discusses the fact that measuring success is key – no matter how you define collaboration. "While definitions of terms like collaboration, reach and productivity may vary," she says, "what everyone ultimately cares about is improved business outcomes."
We can squabble about definitions all we want, but in the end successful collaboration boils down to a combination of implementation, adoption and social interactions.
What do you think? See what your JiveWorks community peers are doing and leave a comment below about how you define and measure collaboration!