Collaboration Defined!

What is Collaboration?

I’m often asked what “real-time collaboration” really means, and why it’s important that our productivity tools be “collaborative” in nature.   So, I break out my “Dude Dictionary” and present them with this breakdown of the word:

Collaboration (Co-lab-bore-a-shun) n – 1.  When two or more people work together to produce a product, or to achieve a common goal, it is said to be, “collaboration”.   2.  The final product or end result of work done jointly.  The end result is a “collaboration” of their work

OK, these are great definitions (if I say so myself), but what does it mean, to you?  Let’s explore!


There are 3 things that make businesses (of any kind) successful – People, Planning, and ­Processes.   You may have heard this stated many different ways.  However, one way I can describe this, where we’ll all agree, is in the form of some common cliché’s typically associated with these three success traits.

People – You’re only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself.
Planning – If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
Processes – You should work smarter, not harder.

Jack Canfield, author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “The Success Principles”, wrote –

“You are the average of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time, outside of your family.”

Image of The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

This said, companies typically seek out the “best and brightest” people they can find.   After all, if you’re the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with, then you had better find 5-10 Rock Stars if you want to consider yourself a Rock Star, too!

By hiring the best and brightest people, you hope that they would bring experience and creative thinking that will, ultimately, improve the way your company does business.   You (hopefully) encourage those people to hold planning sessions and think of ways to do things better, faster, more efficiently, and/or cheaper.

You want those plans documented, so they can be followed to the letter, like a blueprint for success.  Your goal is to execute this plan swiftly and flawlessly.  The ideal end result is a new method, planned and developed by innovative people, adopted as one of your standard business processes.

In his best-selling book, “E-myth Revisited:  Why Most Small Businesses Don’t work and what to do about it,” Michael Gerber speaks of creating Standard Operating Procedures for everything you do in your business.   He calls it, “Working ON your business, rather than IN your business”.
Image of The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

Why Do You Need Collaboration?

Well, since you have the top talent in place (assuming that’s what you strive for when you hire), you need to enable these talented resources to work together in creative ways that allow ideas to flow and glorious plans to be crafted.

Most often, it’s your people who create your processes (in other words, it’s not always management and/or leadership).   Your people are the ones in the trenches, doing all of the “dirty work”.  They know what they enjoy spending their time doing, and they know what they hate to do.    So, why not leave it to these people to find ways to maximize what they love doing, and minimize the dreaded, painful stuff?

By providing these talented people with an excellent collaborative platform, such as SharePoint, you enable them to collaborate in a variety of ways.   You give them options. With Unified Communications enabled through Office Communications Server, SharePoint, and the right infrastructure in (for example), you give users the “option” to work from their desk, from home, from a branch office, or from the local coffee shop.

In other words, collaborative solutions help you take away the “boundaries” of communication, which typically force you to come into the office every day.

  • Distance
  • Being able to see whether or not someone is available
  • Ability to speak real-time and/or face-to-face
  • Water cooler conversations
  • Etc.

Excellent collaboration platforms and tools (such as SharePoint 2010, Office 2010, and OCS), break down these barriers and provide your talented team with a convenient, secure, and real-time platform that allows them to work together (to collaborate) and build solid plans that lead to efficient business processes.

Enable your people to work “smarter”, not “harder”.   Give them “options” and encourage productivity through job satisfaction and flexible work environments.  In return, these people will enable your business to succeed far beyond you greatest expectations.

People, Planning, and Processes = Your Future Success!

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