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Social collaboration can be used to transform how adjacent teams work together and contribute to driving high performance. Taemie Kim and Alex Kass of Accenture Technology Labs identify the opportunities and offer some recommendations for companies interested in improving peripheral awareness among adjacent teams.
Accenture believes that social collaboration technologies will significantly transform how enterprise employees work, giving rise to an enterprise that collaborates more continuously and effectively. Better collaboration will help shorten cycle times, reduce duplication of effort, increase alignment between parts of the organization and allow the enterprise to bring the best thinking to bear on every project and problem systematically.
However, we believe that tapping the full potential benefits of these technologies requires a great deal more than merely deploying existing social collaboration tools. Collaboration actually refers to quite disparate kinds of activities, and takes effort to promote and support. So it is crucial to be guided by a clear focus on what types of collaboration are needed, and what it will take to attain the promised benefits. Too many companies invest in technology without first carefully considering what they really need.
For example, it can be useful to classify collaboration into three distinct types:
Accenture believes that many organizations focus on the first two, but overlook the importance of promoting collaboration between adjacent teams. This represents an important opportunity missed because interaction between such teams are often critical to the smooth operation of the organization, and the information sharing needs between them are often relatively easy to characterize and thus to automate.
What kinds of collaboration go on between adjacent teams and what kinds of awareness do adjacent teams need to help improve the way they work together? Accenture has found that there are various kinds of adjacency relationships between teams that are a function of how the work of each team relates to the other, and that the interfaces needed vary accordingly.
A few main relationship types cover most team scenarios:
Parallel teams. Such teams occupy similar positions within the organizational structure; for example, two different product-development groups within the same company.
Teams in a workflow pipeline. One group consumes the results of another; for example, a design team and a development team.
Teams with complementary functions. In this model, teams are interdependent; for example, research and development teams with different job descriptions but shared objectives.
Management teams. Managers often supervise more than one project or team, and require only a bird’s-eye view of each project.
Teams in coalition. Here, teams cooperate but have separate goals; for example, an R&D team and an academic partner.
Accenture has identified several benefits that can be achieved by properly supporting the peripheral awareness of adjacent teams:
Enhancing peripheral awareness with social collaboration technology is a three-step process:
Accenture recommends that enterprises aiming to use social collaboration in this manner should:
Start with specific objectives, targeting specific benefits for specific clusters of teams rather than grand but vague plans to “help improve collaboration” of the whole organization.
Map the adjacency relationships between targeted teams, identifying the interfaces between teams and the specific type of adjacency relationship that should be supported.
Identify which activities of each team can be more effectively supported on the social collaboration platform.
Identify what information about those activities would be more useful to flow to other teams to support their peripheral awareness of each other’s activities?
Build out the solution that provides the targeted awareness, and test it with the target teams.
Gradually expand the targeted community as benefits are realized.
Accenture is a thought leader in turning great ideas into initiatives that generate real business benefit. Contact us to learn how we can help your organization leverage social media.
February 5, 2012
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