Thursday, 4 February 2010

Michael Sampson responds to my post on collaboration

I have the privilege of knowing and interacting with Michael Sampson, a true collaboration expert based out of New Zealand. I made a recent post called: "what exactly is collaboration and who owns it?" In the article I suggested that speaking of some amorphous entity called 'collaboration' could actually be unhelpful and counterproductive. As such I also suggested splitting the space up into a number of different sub-categories, which are:
  • Messaging centric collaboration
  • Content centric collaboration
  • Conversation centric collaboration
  • Process centric collaboration
  • Collaborative management
The original article garnered a couple of interesting comments. However Michael felt the need to respond on his blog, as he does not agree with my way of slicing and dicing the amorphous blob.

I heartily recommend reading Michael's response by clicking on this link. I will quote Micheal directly, but in summary so as not to just repeat the whole content of his article here. So, Michael says:

"....I think the distinction between the five isn't tight enough, and leaves too much overlap. For example, if I hold a "conversation" with my "geographically dispersed team" via email, I'm doing "conversation-centric" via "messaging centric". The conversation is happening, but we're collaborating via messaging tools"

This is fair enough, of course you can have a 'conversation' by batting email back and forth. It might not be the best way to do it, but it does not make it any less valid. He goes on to say:

"I prefer to slice and dice in the following ways, and as I'll outline in a moment, the majority of Jed's five sub-categories fall into the team collaboration one:
- Team Collaboration ... for a team working towards a deliverable.
- Group Collaboration ... for a group that shares a common interest or practice.
- Organizational Collaboration ... for creating opportunities to collaborate.

I advocate this approach because it separates the discussion of intent and scenario from any particular collaboration technology.

And therein lays the rub - I cannot disagree that my way of dividing up collaboration is somewhat technology centric. I don't think I meant it to be when I first considered it, and I could still argue if I really wanted to that 'messaging' is not necessarily about email software, but Michael's point about overlap is just too valid. I also have to admit that I don't have all of his years of experience in this space, and I do have a technical (systems administration) background which appears to have given me a technology based bias to my approach.

So the key element of Michael's way of looking at the conundrum is his last sentence, the separation of intent and the context of any specific scenario from the technologies used to enable collaboration in that particular scenario. He is taking a business oriented, organizational viewpoint, which makes sense when we talk about who owns collaboration.

Michael then turns his attention to this question, which I touched on at the end of my article. He points to an earlier blog posting of his own: "Who owns collaboration at your firm?" and quite rightly suggests that we should read it, and the comments. However Michael is still fleshing out his ideas on collaboration governance for his next book.
I am looking forward to that read.

However the best thing is, Michael called me on the phone all the way from New Zealand (I am in Canada!) because he wanted a quick chat to make sure I would not be completely devastated when he disagreed with my article - what a star ! :-)

The whole point of blogging for me is to maybe provoke some thought here and there, and to get into interesting conversations like this one. I can only agree that my definitions are somewhat loose, overlapping and technology centric - however hopefully given those caveats, they may still be useful in some scenarios and perhaps can sit alongside Micheal's organizational model, and others. Also, once again we prove the worth of social networking !

Really though, you would think I would know better having read both of his books........ :-)

You should follow Michael on Twitter where he has the handle 'collabguy'
- and Micheal thanks for calling, I thoroughly enjoyed our chat !!

(article edited on 5th of Feb to get the spelling of Michael right !!)

1 comment:

jessica said...

If I were to wager a guess at why, I’d say that users don’t “browse” forms. The interaction style users engage in with forms is different, and requires its own study and design best practices.

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