Patrick Stewart-Blacker: Workspace Technology Specialist, SB Solutions
An article on collaboration for www.cbsmedia.biz
In a time where collaboration is the focus of every industry article, event, key note and board level agenda all whilst a graveyard of technologies from before sits dominating its backdrop, what are our chances of delivering on the essence of collaboration when most of us need to reach for a dictionary when we’re asked to define it?
When asked to present at Wainhouse Amsterdam Summit in January 2013, I wanted to use an analogy that would challenge the current thinking and be memorable enough to stick in the minds of the audience. Using a tank would not always be the first choice, but works on so many different levels: people expect a tank to be designed around armour or the manoeuvrability, but in fact the key component is the projectile and everything is designed around delivering it to the target.
In business this translates to understanding the workflow and existing processes, and layering the architecture and technology solutions on top of this, rather than just pushing an ill-conceived solution on to an unsuspecting client or workforce.
“Is the essence of collaboration really destined to meet the cry businesses are hearing all over – do more with less?”
Recessions have a habit of galvanizing innovation; this is a result of businesses being challenged to continue to move forwards with reduced spending ability. The challenge is to design the correct solution that delivers with the minimum training and disruption to people’s existing workflow. We have found that the key to this is a well considered and executed Proof of Concept, which if done well will ensure the maximum impact to the user, and a greater return on investment for the management. This is where a great deal of current thinking on solution implementation falls down.
Collaboration is about a change of ethos and working practices rather than about adding new technology into the workflow. The ever-lurking graveyard of technology looms over any technology implementation like the Grim Reaper with his scythe, and is never far from the surface in the minds of the decision-makers in a business. Defining what collaboration is and the challenges it presents to the workspace design world is dividing opinion. It is also creating splintered interpretations of the client’s requirements.
This in turn weakens the focus of the solution and increases the likelihood that the space will be a “white elephant”. Our approach to this challenge is based on simplifying complexity; we have to look at the complexity of a business in much greater depth than just audio-visual solutions to find the true business requirement. As business advisors we must work as a team from the conceptual stages in a project to ascertain the needs and problems of a client to provide a completely joined up solution. For your part as the client, you must allow us to dig this deep into your businesses. This in turn this allows the design team to devise simple, cohesive and manageable solutions to your business needs.
A final thought: consultants are often accused in many instances of telling clients what they already know about themselves. As a client ask yourself,
“Can you look inward enough with your own people to create a solution in your working practices that will radically move the business forwards?”
Find out more about find what you need with SMART Technologies’ “‘Eleven lessons on achieving the broad deployment of collaboration technologies in the workplace”.
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