The idea of collaboration has been around forever. This of course means that the idea of collaboration is included in all varieties of sales pitches including document sharing, social intranets and knowledge bases, and even conferencing solutions. In professional services, they know our primary asset is the combined experience and knowledge that we can offer as a firm – it is why we have firms and not just individuals practicing. The pitch is that collaboration will make you more efficient, which will make clients and staff happier and in turn help generate revenue.
And they are right. The more efficient we are the more time that is available to work on other work or business development. The problem is simple, and we have all seen it many times. Technology alone will not make us more efficient and can, at times, make us less focused and therefore less efficient.
Collaboration requires a shift in culture, a shift in the way we do things and a shift in power. When we do not collaborate we do not have to share, we do not have to allow clients or coworkers to see an unfinished or unpolished solutions. When we do collaborate and allow ideas to flow amazing things can happen. Ideas and concepts can be flushed out quickly and in a controlled environment. Staff feel invigorated and part of the team. It can create real value for both your clients and your firm.
The technological options available for collaboration are almost endless. The tools available today are outstanding when used in a positive collaborative environment allow great things to happen. It comes down to people being willing to put in some time, give up some control and set real goals for what they want to achieve.
The idea of collaboration is as old as man in that the idea that working together often provides better results than working alone. The conflict of collaboration is likely just as old.