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  • Rafael Garcia-Parrado 9:00 am on July 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , multidisciplinary collaboration   

    Organizational permeability as a source of innovation 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    There’s a lot of talk about the need to innovate in HR. The change required in Human Resources must enable in companies new ways of doing things to be implemented.

    Usually, open innovation models are referred to when making allusions to the company’s relationships with the exterior. An organization open to market or consumers’ concerns can revolve around the search for a better alternative in terms of competitiveness . This means that we have to understand the benefit that this permeability to the exterior represents, enabling innovation resulting from relationships to be incorporated.

    However, many companies see innovation from an endogenous model, making the acquisition of innovation somewhat expensive and slow, reducing its competitive potential. This is where their error lies, seeking to maintain the organizational structures of the past by limiting relationships to bureaucratic paperwork and rejecting the option to leverage openness as a channel for allowing new ideas or ways of doing things to seep in.

    Open and participative innovation is required, but it means organizations must understand the benefit of involving third parties with new ideas in their processes and the need to stimulate collective intelligence, promoting the figure of the intrapreneur who alone can favor the creation of value.

    This change towards permeable organizations that opt for forms of open innovation represents a challenge for HR. Its function will be to position themselves as facilitators who need to manage the organizational horizontal alignment, encourage change management towards new models, favor continuous learning, and permit autonomy in people’s work.

    ICTs will play an important role in accelerating innovation through collective construction. This will require companies to optimize their communication channels with the external agents who participate in their processes. In this sense, Enterprise Social Networks as a facilitator of communication and team coordination are a major competitive advantage.

    Rafael García (@rafagparrado) works as a consultant at Índize and has his own blog, which at Zyncro we highly recommend: La Factoría Humana.

  • Jeroen Sangers 9:00 am on May 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , multidisciplinary collaboration, , ,   

    Working out loud 

    Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

    I’m a freelancer working from home. A large part of my day, I don’t have anyone near, but I don’t work alone. On a daily basis, I’m in contact with my clients, my providers, and my partners with whom I collaborate on various projects.

    However, at times I miss the office’s coffee machine, where I could comment the latest news and laugh with my co-workers. These co-workers were also a major source of feedback related to my work.

    But there are also things that I don’t miss, like weekly meetings to discuss the status of projects.

    Now I only have my partner to have coffee with and comment the news. The rest of my communication has gone digital.

    Collaboration 2.0

    Nowadays, there are many tools to collaborate without needing to be in the same location, from email and Twitter—I still remember the interface at the beginning that went: “What are you doing?”—to complete platforms like Zyncro.

    When partners and co-workers aren’t in the same location, internal communication becomes even more important to generate results.

    Whenever I collaborate in projects remotely, I apply two habits that Bryce Williams identified in his post When will we Work Out Loud? Soon!

    Working out loud = Observable work + Narrating your work

    Observable Work

    This concept simply implies that the intermediate result of my work can be accessed by my co-workers. Instead of saving the document I’m writing in the folder My Documents on my computer, I use online platforms where my partners can see and comment on the progress and even edit the document.

    Based on this feedback, I can correct the focus of my work as soon as possible, and get better results in a shorter time.

    Modern collaboration platforms display in real time what each member of the team is working on. Each time I edit a document, my colleagues can see a notification in the system, even a summary with the changes made. What’s more, all the material is centralized and indexed in order to find the required information quickly.

    Narrate Your Work

    Similarly, I keep a public diary (blog or micro-blog) where I explain openly what I’m doing, what problems I encounter, what solutions I have found, and how I feel. I also share relevant articles I have found and obviously there is space for a joke once in a while.

    Finally, when working on a big project, I try to communicate each day at least these points:

    1. What I have done today
    2. What I have been unable to do
    3. What are the risks I have identified that will affect the project planning
    4. What my plans are for tomorrow

    During the day I keep a document open where I gradually answer these points. At the end of the day, I just have to publish it.

    If everyone in the team narrated their work openly, we wouldn’t need any meetings to assess project status and we would gain a lot of time.

    People who are already familiar with collaboration tools perfectly understand the benefits of working out loud. Others simply need to try it for a while to learn that they can collaborate efficiently remotely.

    Jeroen Sangers (@JeroenSangers) is personal productivity consultant and author of the blog El Canasto. He specializes in modern techniques to manage time, actions and attention, and provides training, consulting, and keynotes on a more intelligent way to work and live.

    If you want to enjoy the benefits that collaborating has for your productivity too, why not try Zyncro free?

  • Joan Alvares 9:00 am on May 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , multidisciplinary collaboration, ,   

    Liquid teams for liquid times 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    There’s one question that is usually repeated when you get up to present your company: How many of you are there? At times I say there are three of us, others that there are thirty odd, according to the need to be impressed I see in my interlocutor. And in both cases, I’m telling the truth, because at Poko we work with a basic core of project managers and a liquid team that adapts according to each project.

    I’m one of those who thinks that to do something that makes sense, a team needs to be adapted to the project, not the opposite. Because when a company refuses to leave its comfort zone, when it doesn’t feel the need to involve external talent and explore beyond its own knowledge, normally it’s because it is doing something that already exists, more or less prescindible, that expires, easily Chinesed.

    Today the best restaurants in the world are just that because they had brought cusine closer to fields as diverse as art, science or industrial design; to do that they needed to involve the best professionals in these fields. A talent that a fixed structure surely could not have paid, and that would not make sense having permanently in a kitchen. Tomorrow’s project will be different to today’s, and it will force us to find collaboration with different professionals

    In a constantly changing world, the Internet enables us to build big companies without the need to be big structures. The idea is to create talent ecosystems, capable of detecting challenges in a project and capturing the best specialist to respond. The Internet invites us to discovery, disintermediation, cooperation among professionals with different talents that work in different parts of the world. It’s up to us to accept that invitation.

    In your organization, do you also use collaboration networks for different projects? When you collaborate with disperse team, you need great communication to ensure everything works like clockwork. How about using an Enterprise Social Network for this? Try Zyncro!

    Joan Alvares is founding partner of Poko and lecturer at the Istituto Europeo di Design


  • Joan Alvares 10:28 am on December 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , co-production, co-working, , , crowdfunding, multidisciplinary collaboration, poko   

    The Competition is dead: Long live the Co-petition! 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    “With me or against me”. The old meaning of ‘competition’ has no happy medium. From the old way of understanding business relations, two companies in the same sector could only compete or try to divide up the cake.

    A polite entente cordiale: “You don’t invade my territory and I won’t invade yours”. But the digital revolution, combined with the longest recession that many of us has ever known, has enabled us to talk about the emergence of a new phenomenon: ‘co-petition’.

    In a nutshell, co-pete is competing collaboratively in the interests of both parties. It’s about not squabbling over each slice of cake in order to bake the biggest cake of all between everyone.

    A visionary once said: “You can’t produce anything that can’t be Chinesed”. In times of recession and the Internet, almost everything can be done cheaper. Anything that doesn’t provide value risks immediately being copied and brought down in price by those that, on the other side of the world, are willing to eat the cake, crumb by crumb. When creating value, collaboration between companies, even between those that consider themselves to be the competition, is critical. But how do we co-pete? For example, by exchanging know-how and investing in R&D, one of the most difficult departments to justify in times of recession.

    For some time now, I suspect that in a world increasingly more ‘co’, the most sensible thing to do is to try to share value with those that can provide you with value. Adding instead of dividing. Some trends reinforce my belief. Taking three examples:

    Co-working: An entrepreneur twenty years ago would have said that he hoped to have a large enough office to impress his customers and as many secretaries as executives. Nowadays, however, many companies opt to optimize resources, seeking synergies with other companies and sharing spaces like Utopicus, Idea or Mob.

    Co-creation: Consumers are increasingly more informed and capable of connecting with brands on a equal level. What represents a risk for most is an opportunity for others. While multinationals like Gap (in Spanish) decide to change their logo unilaterally (fact that forced the American brand to rectify later due to fan pressure), other companies, such as the Cunning agency, leave their logo to the mercy of any designer that wants to send them a proposal. This way, they have a different logo each day and free publicity from hundreds of designers that feel like co-creators of the brand.

    Co-production: Internet makes us potential content producers. For the media, this means the end of privileges, but for others, it’s a chance to share their talent. Although, it is true that the constant production of contents transforms that content into noise. Nowadays if geniuses like Martin Scorsese or Peter Gabriel had to start afresh, they’d probably still be living in anonymity. But in the same way, phenomena like crowdfunding or collaborative funding means that extraordinary documentaries are not left on the shelf waiting for a producer to discover them. If you’re still unsure what present to get this Christmas, I recommend that you make a donation to El Cosmonauta, a treasure that is being filmed that will see the big screen thanks to the talent of its creators… and co-producers like you.

    Editor’s note: Joan is lecturer at Istituto Europeo di Design and founding partner of Poko

  • Ignasi Alcalde 9:35 am on June 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , multi-disciplinary, multidisciplinary collaboration, , ,   

    Collaboration myths and dynamics 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Thesedays it is usually hard to find socially useful activities that can be carried out strictly on an individual basis.  Collaboration and collaborative work usually offer great strengths: as they integrate individual efforts, maximise the diverse capabilities of each member, share out the work according to specific functions in order to achieve a combined result.

    This is how things really are but lately and due to the great burst of multiple collaborative tools, there is much talk as to the benefits of collaborative work which incidentally has many myths that should be clarified.

    According to the Gartner consultancy, the five most common myths (positive and negative) are:

    1. We will be collaborative with the right tools.
    2. Collaboration is a good thing on its own.
    3. Collaboration implies having extra time available.
    4. People do or do not collaborate as comes naturally.
    5. People know how to collaborate instinctively.

    In my opinion, the first and fifth are the most relevant points.  Collaboration tools have been in existence for various years and the idea of using computer networks as a base for online collaboration is fairly old.

    Having good collaborative tools that facilitate collaboration is very important but people have been collaborating for a lot longer than these tools have been around and some groups of people do not collaborate even when new collaborative tools are available.  Ironically though, sometimes the most powerful collaboration can take place by simply using paper or a whiteboard.

    Putting aside the adecuate tools for the place we collaborate in and whether it is a whiteboard, company microblogging or a telework system, collaboration does not necessarily take place “by chance”, and overall in ways that can benefit the company’s common objectives.

    In order to put together a good dynamic collaboration let us say that there are four basic key elements: transparency, authenticity, collaboration, trust.

    When we begin a collaborative project and depending on its components, there are some expectations and objectives but these many a time get stuck along the way and do not end in success.  The key for me lies within knowing how to work in a team.

    Although collaborative work and teamwork may seem the same, the truth is that collaborative work takes place within teamwork and in addition, it can be found not only in teamwork but can also help achieve the goals set right at the beginning of the work.

    When we find ourselves with conflicting situations that can lead us to a crisis, we “should” work as a team and I suggest that when tasks and agreements do not move forward, it is because whatever it is that we are doing would work better if we could work as a team.

    In order to achieve teamwork, one must go through a learning curve and go against old and more traditional approaches to working which emphasised “solo-working” and individual responsibility in order for us to really be able to have a way into a world that is crying out for the integration and coordination of capabilities.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Follow our collaborative working expert @ignasialcalde on Twitter!


  • Lluis Font 10:45 am on February 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: legibility, multidisciplinary collaboration, ,   

    How is good software designed? 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    This could be another controversial article but let it be known that I write it with all the love of someone who started his career as a programmer.

    The software industry looks more and more each day like that of architecture. Allow me to explain.

    Nowadays success in the development of any kind of software is attributed neither to the actual programming of it, nor the number of functions but moreover to much more important factors like the ease of use and its design.

    The most well known that intervene with the ease of use is that of usability. This determines if the product is easy to use, intuitive and whether or not it allows you to get to any function with the least amount of clicks.  The other and lesser known (usually forgotten) is the editorial or copy.  We can call it “legibility“.  The texts of many products are edited by the programmers themselves and the results are a disastrous: screens that cannot be understood, error messages with undecipherable code and help as complicated to follow the Da Vinci Code.

    One of the most obvious examples of brutal failure due the fact that the engineers design the product is Nokia.  The up until recently, leader of mobile manufacturing did not know how to rapidly adapt itself to the smartphones market.  In my opinion, the hidden reason was the engineering team’s arrogance that thought they could do things faster and better.  Their competitors on the contrary to Nokia, prioritized the ease of use and the design alongside the number of functions.  Bear in mind that the iPhone, “star” of the moment, is still an inferior telephone to that of Nokia on a technical level.

    At the other extreme, we have Windows MobileMicrosoft served up the mobile version of the same unstable, non-robust software we are all used to, and that on mobile is unforgiveable.  How many of you abandoned Windows Mobile because it kept crashing?  And let’s not forget, the marvellous BlackBerry keypad.  Dídac is a big fan…

    There are many more examples of software.  The Open Source world has hundreds of them and they are the most popular amongst specialized technical profiles.  Open Source, on the other hand, is still out of reach from the mainstream segment, as it is too complicated to install and use.

    A year within brackets on the subject.  Open Source as a business software model (for the creation of itself) does not exist. At soon as things begin to work economically, Open Source will cease.  In the majority of cases it has turned into what we call a Fremium/Premium model in which the Open Source version, correctly named (free) has limitations and the robust and functional one is to be purchased.

    As I was saying, Open Source in general is very difficult to use for non-technical users.  It is usually software full of configurable options that the majority of human beings do not understand.   And this said by a fan of various Open Source applications.

    So, from my point of view, the new successful software industry is based on the following premise:

    • Ease of use
    • Attractive design
    • Easy to understand copy content
    • Killer features ( = super attractive functionality for users that can only be found in some specific software, the keypad and management of Blackberry’s  email push was the key to success a year back) vs. thousands of functions.

    Now I go back to my original statement, how does the software industry compare to that of architecture?

    Good architects’ projects do not only contain a strong technical component but they are also characterised by a differentiated creativity from a visual and conceptual point of view.   This is more applicable to software all the time.  We do not want “ugly” software anymore, we want it to be visually attractive.  Maybe we owe this to the great Jobs.

    Usability is the key.  The same is applicable in the field of architecture.  Now in this field, designers, interiorists and even in some cases ergonomists intervene.

    So then, for software we need: good designers, usability specialists and above all “writers”. Why don’t we incorporate philologists and journalists into software companies?

    And last but not least, we have the programmers.  At the MWC, an important director of a well known American software company said to me, “programmers are the blue collar workers of the 21st century” (programmers are the equivalent of manufacturing line operators of the 21st century) .  If I was a programmer nowadays, I would interest myself in usability, the design and information security, faced with the risk of going down in the production line and being confined to a country where the price of my work is much less.

    In summary, the new software industry is based on parameters of success that go far beyond programming and the number of functions.  The key is:

    • Visual attractiveness. Human beings make many decisions visually.
    • Intuitive usability.  Watch how a child learns to use an iphone.
    • Good functions and some absolutely killer ones.
    • Easy to integrate with other software that I like to use.

    Most definitely, the term multidisciplinary collaboration within the software industry makes more sense each day and unless the programmer is capable of becoming a one man band, it will be better that he surrounds himself with a diverse team.  Is it because I work at Zyncro that I am always thinking about collaboration?

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