Walk into any modern organization today and you’ll see chat dominates email, VoIP overtakes physical meetings, and now touchscreens replace the boardroom whiteboard. The very meaning of collaboration is being redefined thanks to these unrelenting, disruptive innovations. So, what exactly does collaboration look like now and did our old tech really drive it?
“When you say collaboration, the average 45-year-old thinks they know what you’re talking about: teams sitting down, having a nice conversation with nice objectives and a nice attitude.”
This is how former Google CEO Eric Schmidt sarcastically described the outdated perspective on collaboration. Historically, an organization’s efforts for collaboration was stifled by vertical separation, placing rules and regulations on a pedestal for success. Emails, meetings, and even conversations by nature became dissonant when formality and expectation were paramount. Prior to the wave of technological disruption, a handful of recurring barriers to collaboration persisted:
- Longer communication times created an illusion of formality
- Ideas curated without team input took time and were often not on target
- Process crushed intuition and creativity
Online chat was the stepping stone to change all that when it debuted in offices around the early 2000’s. Communication became as simple as knowing who to talk to and a click of a button; allowing teams to break the mold of formality without distracting busy colleagues.
Workplaces ten years later introduced Slack and Skype for Business which integrated video and live conversation worldwide, filling a missing personal element that traditional chat lacked. No longer did budgets need to stretch those long distances in order to connect with external team members.
Now interactive whiteboards make headway into the marketplace promoting immersive meetings with a hands-on approach. Replacing the traditional board room projector and TV screen model, these modern, interactive displays are expanding collaborative possibilities with multitouch features, native document editing, and real-time sharing directly within the workplace itself.
This innovative progression ignited a demand for organizational reinvention and is constantly transforming how teams work together. By lifting collaborative barriers as previously described, it’s clear that Schmidt’s definition doesn’t suit the modern day workplace anymore.
Collaboration now means every employee has a finger in the organizational pie. Inter-departmental meetings are commonplace and investing in collaborative workspaces is a top priority. To foster collaboration today means driving:
- Seamless open communication
- Fastest idea output & immediate feedback
- An environment with purpose
Organizations are shifting into a lean workflow and growth mindset to encourage employee interaction with one another using technology as the means. Meticulously sending out emails or sitting idly in meetings isn’t enough to declare “Collaboration is happening!” anymore. These passive methods and old technology don’t drive collaboration the way it’s defined today. We are currently in a golden era of collaboration where typing, talking, and even drawing out our ideas to push productivity is possible.
While emails and paper pads may not be fully retiring the modern-day office, waves of disruptive innovation are showing no signs of stopping. Organizations that can understand the nature of collaboration can drive their business to ultimately compete with the big players like Google and Apple. As Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, puts it:
“Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on – but it is not the goal. Making something great is the goal.”
And making something great can only stem from the groundwork of healthy collaboration. Does your organization have the necessary tools to keep up?