Collaboration tools, or, what works at work?

I’m looking for examples of collaboration tools doing actual work in the workplace.

Notice how deftly I avoided saying “web 2.0” tools?   That’s what a lot of these things are, but I have a suspicion that the examples I’m looking for will be from people who don’t say “web 2.0” a lot.   Or “blogosphere.”   Like the people in this video from BNet Intercom.

What I hope to find is a collection of mini case studies:

  • Here’s a problem we had at Montcrieffe Heraldry and Landscaping.
  • Here’s what we tried because we thought it would let us do X, Y, and Z.
  • Here’s what happened in reality.
  • Here’s where we’re going next.

Why am I looking?   Rather than saying to people “you ought to have a blog” (or a wiki, or a mashup, or whatever), I’d like to show real-word examples in terms of the problems they addressed and the results they delivered.

For example, procurement people at a petrochemical company wanted to track and share what they learned in dealing with suppliers.   You may recall this saying:

Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment.

The corollary is that the bad judgment doesn’t have to be yours.   So the procurement people used an online tool to report on negotiating strategy, dealings with particular vendors, and other things that procurement people pay attention to.   They restricted access to just their department, but allowed people in that department to revise or add to the information.   So, over time, topics emerged, as did cross-references, as did changes in thinking.

It was a wiki.

The key is that if you’re reading this, you probably know what a wiki is.   You’re likely to have written or edited something on a wiki.   But, when you say “wiki” to many people in the corporate world, they think of Wikipedia, which means they think of:

  • Political staffers and folks with agendas trying to change the pages for Barack Obama or John McCain
  • Featured articles like these (shown on the main page on the last four Fridays):
  • The Buffyverse, an astonishing number of pages related to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

What are you seeing that’s working?   Let me know, either in a comment, or by email to dferguson at strathlorne youknowwhatgoeshere com.

5 thoughts on “Collaboration tools, or, what works at work?

  1. Kia ora Dave!

    “(T)he bad judgement doesn’t have to be yours.” This says it all! Unfortunately there’s no better learning than that from one’s own experience. Why is that unfortunate? Simply because it’s learning based on the experience of only one person.

    How enriching it is to be able to learn from the experiences of others. From the self-centred approach, it is just a mind-set.

    If we look to the experiences of others that seem to be most successful in imparting learning to us, we would have a list of fears and trepidations. Why? Because the idea that, “I’m never going to let that happen to me,” seems to be more successful at initiating the required learning.

    It’s getting the head round this way of thinking that permits one to learn from the experiences of others.

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  2. Ken,

    “Knowledge management” was a very popular phrase a while back. Like “change management,” it seems to me more a theme than a technology. Not that we can’t benefit from what others have tried; just that this is another area of human experience where someone’s always offering magic beans in trade for your old cow.

  3. Hello Dave:

    Your commentary on Web 2.0 should be mandatory reading for those developing corporate training.

    Please keep the pragmatics focus that is lacking in our field.


  4. Margaret, thanks for your kind words. I’m happy to accept “pragmatic.” It suits me better than “dogmatic.”

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