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Many corporations’ collaboration practices were put to the test in response to COVID-19. Which of those practices were too fragile to survive the weight of a global emergency?  Furthermore, how is VMware technology uniquely positioned to help exploit those best practices?  I’m glad you asked.

Barriers to Collaboration

One of the best works on promoting collaboration to date is Morten T. Hansen’s Collaboration:  How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Benefits.  The most eye-opening section of the book explores what Hansen calls, “the four barriers to collaboration.”  Why would you want optimal collaboration?  Well, in a world where the workforce is significantly distributed, you can no longer take for granted the natural collaboration that occurs when people see each other in-person in an office setting.  Hansen categorizes these high-level barriers as:

  • The “Not Invented Here” Barrier
  • The Hoarding Barrier
  • The Search Barrier
  • The Transfer Barrier

Can you spot the barriers to collaboration that exist in your organization?  If you have employees in multiple regions, does one region tend to drive the direction or requests while the others wait in the wings?  Do some of your partners seem more likely to share information, seek it out, or create organic ways to share it?  For global organizations, the answer to these questions is almost always a strong “yes.”  What are the categories of things we can change to reduce or remove these barriers?

Tools, Processes, or Culture?

I used to say that if I heard the phrase “People, Process, and Technology” one more time then I’d throw my computer out the window. Then I started seeing all the ways it applies to business solutions and issues.  It’s not enough to focus just on tools.  We also need to think about how those tools achieve business outcomes, simplify internal processes, and promote the culture we desire.  Let’s take a look at each individually.

Tooling

Regardless of what many will tell you, tooling is still extremely important.  All too often in business, function follows form, meaning that negative culture and inefficient process gets embedded due to poor tooling.  For instance, one of the most powerful collaboration tools in the end-user computing toolbox is Workspace ONE.  It helps manage devices, identity, access, applications, content, and more.  Organizations should always consider how they can get the most out of the tools in their toolboxes.  Are we making full use of mobile single sign-on?  Are we enabling our administrators with easy-to-use dashboards and automations in Workspace ONE Intelligence?  Just like good investments, good IT systems should work FOR you, not the other way around.

Process

Process and people are inextricably linked.  What processes have your new tools now simplified?  For instance, a migration from legacy PCLM tools to a modern management tool, such as Workspace ONE, will greatly change your internal processes for policy management, application management, patching, and more.  Create a mapping between your previous processes and the new version.  What enablement is required to get there?  How does your current team map to the new processes?  Most importantly, how will the four barriers to collaboration hinder this evolution?  Some groups may balk at the change, having built their careers on the old processes.  Identify key stakeholders and include them in the planning procedure as much as possible, even if (especially if) they are difficult in nature.  Best to avoid the “Not Invented Here” barrier wherever possible.

Having 90% of workforces move from an in-office setting to an out-of-office setting likely strained many organization’s ability to search and transfer key information.  Recent events have made this significantly more important.  Which of your organization’s technology processes were strained by these events?  These are probably the most important for you to evaluate to optimize collaboration among teams.

Culture

We’ve saved the best for last.  A lot of ink has been utilized to discuss how to create a great business culture.  Significantly less has been spent understanding how to avoid creating a bad business culture.  As in other areas of life you’ll get way more benefits by removing the bad than by overengineering the good.  What processes and tools have created frustration?  What negative behaviors or attitudes seem to be engrained in the organization?  Employees naturally want to collaborate.  It is in our human nature.  Something has to happen (or not happen) to keep us from working together.  Remove those barriers and watch the situation improve.  Again, the most important part is to not be afraid to dig deep and get to the root of the problem.  Most VPs and Directors give up at the manager level.  Always listen to the person on the ground!  Whether or not to go full “Undercover Boss” is up to you.

Call to Action

Take a long, honest look at your organization and how it views collaboration.  What is holding you back from selling faster, delivering faster, being more responsive to your customers?  What are the real roadblocks to reducing SLAs and internal friction?  Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and dig deep into problems.  Sometimes entire teams get created because two internal systems aren’t integrated, causing an enormous amount of expensive, manual, and mind-numbing work to be performed on a daily basis.  Don’t just factor in the technology and personnel costs.  What are the costs in terms of customer satisfaction, employee retention, and sheer time that these issues cause?

The best part is that VMware is here to help.  Our EUC technologies can help you improve your organization’s collaboration right out of the box.  Need help driving to get the most out of these tools?  Our Transformation Consulting practice is here and ready to help.

Next Steps

Still need help deciding how to drive collaboration in your organization using Workspace ONE?  VMware Professional Services offers services to help you get started.  Please contact your VMware sales representative for more information.

 

References

  1. Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results by Morten T. Hansen, 2009.

 

About the Author

Roy D. McCord is a Staff Architect with VMware’s Professional Services Engineering team.  He is responsible for architecting, building, and maintaining VMware’s End User Computing global portfolio of professional services offerings.  Roy has previously worked as a team leader within the Workspace ONE consulting team and helped to build the practice from the ground up.  He holds BS, MS, and MBA degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.  Roy resides in Alpharetta, Georgia