There are many reasons why companies defer decisions about collaboration technology.

Confronted with an array of technology choices, IT managers may be confused. Competing vendors make a lot of similar claims, making it difficult to arrive at a buying decision with an appropriate degree of confidence.

Some IT managers also struggle to define a business case that’s strong enough to win buy-in from upper management. Organizations have a variety of pressing IT needs, but most have limited resources. Collaboration can easily be pushed aside in favor of seemingly more urgent priorities, such as security or customer-facing apps.

But while it may be understandable why organizations fail to act on collaboration, doing nothing is a problem. If you don’t make sure your organization collaborates right, it will collaborate wrong.

What Is ‘Wrong’ Collaboration?

Make no mistake: One way or another, people will collaborate. We will get the information we need from each other. We will tell each other about our great ideas. And we will bring problems to each other’s attention.

Unfortunately, if we’re not given legitimate, authorized means to do these things, we will simply opt for nonlegitimate, unauthorized means. We will use tools that aren’t secure. We will create content that doesn’t get backed up. We will violate regulatory mandates and corporate policies.

We won’t do these things knowingly or maliciously. But we need to get things done, so do them we will. If you want to encourage shadow IT, compromise information security and undermine your ability to properly govern enterprise content, leaving people to their own devices is definitely the way to go.

What Is ‘Right’ Collaboration?

There is, of course, an alternative. By providing people with the kind of frictionless collaboration they instinctively seek, you can both empower them to perform and ensure your ability to govern their work product.

Frictionless collaboration, however, is easier said than done. As noted above, IT managers can be challenged sorting through the competing claims of vendors. It also can be hard to figure out exactly what users want and need, because “collaboration” means different things to different people.

But these difficulties can be overcome. In fact, we’re overcoming them every day at all kinds of companies with all kinds of needs. And every time we successfully remove collaborative friction at one company, we learn valuable lessons to apply at the next company.

Ultimately, there is one sure way to fail at collaboration: Do nothing. I’ve never seen that work. Not making a decision, after all, is its own kind of decision. It just happens to be the wrong one.

Feel free to add comments below or follow me on Twitter at @kensnyder. 

 

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