Why mail colleagues when you can collaborate instead

Concept Of Communication

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For digital immigrants, e-mail has dominated as the primary business tool. Dominating in the first half of our careers. But we have also seen a gradual degradation of mail enabled productivity. Driven by an increasing complexity in the issues we deal with. In combination with new collaborative tools entering the workplace. Here are some ideas on how you can approach the new workplace territory. And become as effective in collaborating as the 15 year younger colleagues next to you.

Why the value of e-mail is declining

E-mail will remain but its role will change. Triggered by one or several of the following realities:

  1. Team members battling daily to keep up with a growing number of mails.
  2. The amount of information mails is growing faster than action oriented mails.
  3. Mails reach a narrow target group, as defined by the sender’s distribution list.
  4. Communication silos prevent teams from addressing complete tasks in a timely fashion.
  5. Storing business insights in non-searchable personal mail folders limit future value.
  6. Companies loose valuable e-mail stored information when an employee leave a company.
  7. The data today circulating in mails represent a critical asset to mine and interpret.

New collaborative tools and communities entering the work place

Communities and associated collaboration tools are changing the work place. Driven by two major disruptions. A growing complexity in the issues with deal with. And the need for diverse competencies and insights to solve the problems.

The collaboration tools landscape focus on a few areas. The ability to share a common space for documents generated in a team or a project. The ability to support many contributors working in the same document or file. Team chat applications for instant communication between team members. Progress tracking with digital Kan-Ban Boards.

Google led the introduction of collaboration tools. With the G-suite of tools like Docs, Drive and Hangouts and Google+. Similar capabilities are now provided by Microsoft. With Sharepoint, Skype for Business, Yammer and Tasks. Beyond the complete suites, tailored applications are available. Slack for team messaging. Dropbox for documents sharing. Trello for progress tracking. Common for all these tools is their focus on supporting collaborative teams. in becoming more effective. And the availability of these tools cross device platforms

To collaborate well you need to embrace these new tools. And take on the task to become as familiar with these tools as you are with mail today. Not embracing all tools at once, but a step-by-step journey adding them one by one to your repertoire. As required in the team you are participating. And to leverage the mobile workplace flexibility to best suit your personal life.

Early steps to become a digital collaborator

  • Start exploring new collaboration tools – aspire to learn basics about one per quarter.
  • Start engaging in 5 main collaboration groups – to boost your personal output.
  • Start asking and responding in collaboration groups – to grow and share your expertise.
  • Stop sending questions to colleagues in e-mails – unless it is the only option left.
  • Stop sending market/customer insights in e-mails – unless it is confidential information.
  • Stop responding to questions with e-mail – if it applicable to a broader group.

Questions for you and your team

  1. Which are the critical collaboration groups you need – target a few where you are active.
  2. Have our groups reached critical mass yet – both readers and contributors are vital.
  3. Do we have diverse enough teams – stimulate collaboration across profession borders.
  4. Which collaboration tools do we use – select a few ones all can manage to start with.
  5. How well do our team members handle our tools – assume large spread in digital literacy.
  6. How do our leaders set the collaboration direction – not all can start at grassroots level.

Additional reading suggestions

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