Sunday, April 04, 2004

Conference Notes: Building and Sustaining a Collaborative Working Environment
Ark Group, London 4-5 March 04

A relatively small conference (~100 people) that focused on developing collaborative environments both internally and with clients. It didn’t always succeed in keeping this focus – it’s a small hops from collaboration to knowledge work to same-old-KM, but some of the issues raised, particularly around client collaboration, made it worth attending.

Comments on individual talks:

Knowledge Mapping by Ricky Ricks of Innoval
Ricky described 'K-Map', an approach almost identical to matrix mapping based around the product-attribute-process idea in QFD. What they've done nicely is deliver result through highly navigable web tool. The technique works really well for fairly simple, determinate processes like mass-manufacturing but can't represent processes with many conditions or complex interdependencies (soft-systems methodologies would be better here).

Health & Safety Exec by kenny.macdonald@hse.gsi.gov.uk
slides: www.hse.gov.uk/ark.ppt
Good account of getting a team to adapt to virtual working e.g. agreeing folder strcuture and appointing guardians, returning emails with attachments that should be in shared filespace etc. I liked this because Kenny was willing to say that its all these little nudges that make virtual collaboration work, though individually they may seem petty.

Chris Shano, Head of Knowledge Services, Atos KPMG Consulting, Knowledge & Research Centre
Appealing change management tool which they called the "mental progress model". It used a timeline horizontally marked with project milestones. Rows were stakeholder types e.g. MDs, consultants, experts and core project team. At points in timeline had “thought bubbles" of how they wanted stakeholder groups to be reacting. This makes it more discussible and provides intangible 'early warning'. For example, if you expectation management isn’t going well, it prompts you to do a quick test of what people are actually saying vs. the mindset you needed them to have according to the bubbles. I like this because in e.g. IT change it’s very easy to get sucked into just looking at the tangible progress and forget about the actual change that organization was looking for when it initiated the project.

Wragge & Co. Matthew Cleverdon
Matthew spoke about extending portals externally as a differentiator with clients. This has proven very attractive - a secure collaboration space was sometimes an advantage when managers were doing something so sensitive that they didn't want it on their own company systems. But it has big implications for support - you can't treat clients like employees and brusquely demand a user ID before you'll help them (what does this say about your average helpdesk!). It also raises questions about liability e.g. for data loss in a partnership or hacking.

Best Quotes of the conference came from Jonathan Odonde, formerly of the UK Sports Council
"We're spending £25M on elite athletes to do what? Win gold medals. It'd be a lot cheaper to buy the gold and just mint them ourselves."

"Collaboration isn't about exchanging documents. Living near a library won't make me the cleverest person in the room"


1 comment:

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