It seems like a platitude to say that team effectiveness is intertwined with individual effectiveness, but there is a surprising amount of sentiment contrary to this. I explore this, and explore an exciting new product in this post.
Many collaboration environments become graveyards for documents precisely because the collaboration environment is separate from the group member’s work environment. You set up a wiki for a group to share information, but the group members are not using the wiki for their own notes. Instead they keep local documents on their local system using their favorite editor. Later, when the guilt piles up enough, the go to the wiki and attempt to bring it up to date, but this is often too little too late. The problem is a vicious cycle: if the wiki is not always current then it can’t be trusted, and if it can’t be trusted nobody uses it, and if nobody uses it there is little motivation to keep it current.
Often these shared places are set up by people filled with grand ideas of how everyone will benefit, only to be abandoned with great disappointment later when they find that it is just a drain on the group. OR worse: they are not abandoned and continue to be a drain.
In discussions about making groups effective, I talk about how individuals need to change their habits, and I often get push back on this. The argument goes like this: a person should be able to work however they want to work, and later share what they want when they want to share. It is a nice idea, and I can relate to the desire to have a private place to work, but this is fundamentally the problem: the unnecessary duplication becomes a barrier.
If you want the group to be more effective, you need to change the way that the individuals work and keep their own information. A case manager should not work on the side, and then update the case when needed. Instead, the case manager must work directly within the case environment. Ideally, all actions, all notes, all documents, all email, is automatically part of the case, even if at first it does not seem relevant. Only through this, will the case be trustworthy. And only when it is trustworthy, will it actually yeild the benefit.
Nobody says this better than Justin Rosenstein as he sets up for the demo of Asana’s new collaboration environment. He says when you set up a collaborative environment, but what you see is that people generally don’t have those tools open for their own use. They end up copying back and forth. He says:
if something is going be successful the way that a group organizes its information, it also has to be the way that individuals organize their information. In order to be the best group collaboration environment, it needs to be the best personal productivity tool.
It is well worth watching this demo, because it is an excellent representation of how an Adaptive Case Management product could be constructed. Jacob Ukelson write along the same line in his post “Asana and Adaptive Case Management (ACM).”
In the end, our goal to make groups of people more effective, is intertwined and can not be separated from the tools and approaches that individuals use to make themselves effective. This is tricky, because you need to have incremental adoption, because nobody is going to use anything until they see some benefit of using it, and network effect is necessary to see the benefit. But the vision should be nothing short of a complete revamp of organizational working environment.
Is it BPM?
For my friends who insist that ACM is just a branch of BPM, please please watch this video, and point out for me where the BPM comes into the picture. As I have said before: if all you have is a hammer, all the problems start to look like nails. I maintain my position that we are working toward something that is dramatically different from BPM.