Because I have a reputation for using social media, I find that I am often invited to projects or committees so as to “bring the social media” to the table.
People are often surprised when I don’t bring up the topic of social media at all.
Social media is a great tool, but regular use doesn’t always indicate that your process is social.
Let’s talk about how you collaborate currently on your projects.
When you have a face-to-face meeting with all of the players or partners involved on a project, you have a highly social environment.
From the start, people are able to make eye contact, gauge body language, set objectives and work on identified outcomes. You have a direct ability to transform a project from one stage to its successive next stage.
Note: If you’re attending face-to-face meetings and projects are making no noticeable progress, you need to evaluate the value of that meeting.
One way to test the value of the meeting is to evaluate if any transformation has taken place from where information was at the beginning of the meeting to what occurred by the end of the meeting. If information makes no noticeable change, you could likely have shared this same information via static format like an email or a newsletter. Don’t waste people’s precious meeting time unless you are aiming to make forward-moving progress.
Now, think about how you collaborate outside of meetings:
- Are participants able to choose their level of engagement?
- Can participants see the comments/feedback from other partners or players?
- Can project evolution be accessed, if desired?
- Are project documents/history all easily accessible for partners?
- Can partners or players easily see the next steps or how to engage in the project?
- Are the tools being used simple and understandable?
- Are you getting the outcomes that you wish to see of other participants?
Many projects still rely on email for collaboration. Email is a really challenging tool for collaboration.
If you have 5 or more partners attempting to work on a project, a simple “reply all” on email grows annoying very quickly. If project history or documents are primarily shared via email, you may be missing partners right from the start who have size-based limitations on what can be shared over their email servers.
Some collaborative methods of working together include:
- InstantConference provides a set of free tools for teleconferencing
- Doodle.Com for collaborative scheduling,
- Skype which allows for document sharing, voice, video and chat-based conferencing,
- Google+ Hangouts which allow for video-based meetings which can be recorded,
- Google Docs which allow multiple people to edit a document at once
- WikiSpaces which allows collaborative working on a topic
- QikPad and Pirate Pads allow for quick work in a shared space along with chat features
- Trello provides a way to collaborate easily on to-do lists and next step elements of projects
- Dropbox allow partners to easily share files.
It’s not so much which tool you use, but rather a mindset that says “can everyone engage to the level in which they are interested in the project?”
Can people access information, make progress on the project and contribute without emails being required? If your answer to this question requires an email, you might want to check out a collaborative tool and see if that helps to boost the level of engagement among your participants.
Working collaboratively can save you an incredible amount of time. The more you collaborate, the more you’ll crave it. It will indeed transform the way you work.
The one downside, however? You will begin to notice how much email-based collaboration still occurs….and how ineffective it truly is. Sorry!