We read a lot about collaboration, and there are very many guides to the use of collaboration technology.
However there does not seem to be so much available concerning the use of collaborative process, or collaborative structure. Recently, in work for a client, I have been looking for a guidance structure for collaborative process, and came up with the matrix on this page.
Does it work? Your comments welcome - this is pretty much a first pass. An explanation follows.
Firstly, I am defining collaboration here as "working together on a common issue, across organisational and/or geographical boundaries". So "working together in a co-located team" is treated here as teamwork, not collaboration.
Secondly I am looking only at process/structure, not at technology. There may be many technology solutions that could support any one process or structure.
Thirdly I am looking at multiway collaboration, and so am excluding one-way publishing in all its forms, including blogging.
The two questions which define the matrix are
1) what are you trying to achieve through collaboration?
- working together to deliver a common product or objective?
- seeking knowledge and advice from others to guide your own objective?
- seeking opinion and data from others, to inform your own objective
The first question really talks about ownership of the output, and the degree of involvement of the collaborators in the solution.
The outcomes are as follows
- What we call "knowledge exchange" - a diverse group working face to face to create a common product
- Virtual work groups and virtual teams - the virtual equivalent of ftf workgroups and teams.
- Peer Assist (real or virtual)
- Communities of Practice
- Knowledge Cafe
- "Crowdsourcing" techniques such as surveying, polling and online brainstorms