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Collaboration2.0 - Book Review

1 September 2008

Dr. Moria Levy

The book "Collaboration2.0" is a publication from 2008, co-authored by two individuals deeply immersed in the collaboration field: David Coleman, a technologist with unparalleled expertise in collaboration products, their capabilities, and trends, and Stewart Levine, an organizational consultant specializing in advancing decision-making through results-oriented agreements. Doubtless, few experts globally surpass Coleman in this domain. This book stands as an unparalleled resource for anyone seeking insight into the technological realm of collaboration. Additionally, I gleaned valuable insights into the softer aspects of reaching agreements and fostering cooperation within organizations.


Nevertheless, three aspects of the book troubled me. Firstly, I found the transition between Coleman's chapters and those by Stewart to be abrupt and lacking cohesion. The shift is sharp. Secondly, as a knowledge management professional, I found Coleman's chapters highly technical. While his intent is commendable, the extensive array of products and companies, complete with intricate details of acquisitions and specific capabilities, can be overwhelming. Thirdly, while Stewart's chapters are astute, I still need clarification, despite the author's assertions, on how they can be implemented explicitly in the 2.0 environment. I acknowledge considering these proposed ideas, primarily within the 1.0 context rather than 2.0.


This is, of course, a subjective perspective. I may have overlooked certain aspects, and that's my responsibility. Nonetheless, this summary encapsulates the critical takeaways that one should be aware of and, in some cases, even implement.


The book's structure adheres to the classic knowledge management model of technology, culture, and process:


Technology:

  • Collaboration1.0

  • Collaboration2.0

  • Collaboration2.5

  • New trends

Processes:

  • Proper communication in Age 2.0

  • Moving an organization to 2.0

Culture:

  • Culture and thinking for solutions

  • Teamwork development

  • Outcome-oriented agreements

  • Conflict resolution


In conclusion, the sharing paradigm of 2.0G will not replace existing sharing, at least not soon. It will be an additive component. I hope you find the read enjoyable.


Technology:

Collaboration 1.0

Generation 1 collaboration emerged toward the close of the twentieth century and remains predominant in most organizations. Before this era, discussions primarily revolved around content, emphasizing the adage "Content is King." 1G collaboration revolves around robust cooperation within defined teams and groups, with the focal point being the content itself, serving as the nucleus for sharing. Critical characteristics of first-generation collaboration include:

  • Static information with content at the core.

  • Primary delivery of messages through the mail.

  • Content production and editing aligned with organizational policies.

  • Asynchronous contact, mainly through emails.

  • The IT body dictates technology.

  • Access to information facilitated through search.

  • Definition of transaction-dependent interfaces.

  • Implementation of organizational taxonomy.

  • Uniform and standardized collaborative practices for all.


1G collaboration forms the fundamental basis for conventional knowledge management (ML).


Collaboration 2.0

Second-generation (2G) collaboration shifts its focus to people. Instead of emphasizing closed groups, the discourse centers around networks with weak connections. This collaborative approach is crafted for ease of use, driven by a compelling need as economies and organizations transition into knowledge-based entities. Diverging from the characteristics of 1G sharing, 2G sharing is defined by:

  • Dynamic information with interaction at the core.

  • Predominant use of RSS for message retrieval.

  • Content is freely produced and edited, utilizing platforms like wikis and blogs.

  • Adoption of Instant Messaging and SMS for communication.

  • Individuals independently or departmentally select technologies, often without IT involvement.

  • Information is accessed through subscriptions.

  • Interfaces are designed based on relationships.

  • Incorporation of folksonomies with personal tags.

  • Tailored collaborative solutions, either personal or niche-oriented.


Collaboration 2.5

Several innovative, collaborative technologies represent a significant leap forward for WEB2.0, yet they fall outside the semantic realm (the essence WEB3.0 being the next evolutionary step). These technologies encompass:

  1. Virtual worlds

  2. 3D technologies

These advancements markedly enhance collaboration capabilities, extending beyond gaming and simulations to encompass business and everyday applications. Their significance in the context of sharing is profound as they facilitate an enhanced sense of connection among participants, enabling communication beyond the confines of text. In doing so, they address a crucial aspect of rebuilding trust, particularly in virtual communities that have struggled to foster meaningful connections in face-to-face meetings.


New trends

Anticipated trends, both emerging and persisting in the upcoming years, include:

  1. Integration of collaborative products across audio, video, data, and conferencing domains.

  2. Pervasive presence applications.

  3. Integration of synchronous and asynchronous tools, with wikis and blogs evolving as asynchronous tools.

  4. Standardization of collaboration products within organizational frameworks, replacing disparate product islands.

  5. Incorporation of collaborative software as an integral infrastructure component across all software, exemplified by the current presence of software.

  6. Stabilization and consolidation of the supplier market in collaboration (Consolidation), reducing numerous niche players to 6-8 leading suppliers.

  7. Specialized advancements in niche verticals (e.g., dedicated solutions for insurance and finance, government, etc.) and central organizational processes such as marketing, sales, customer service, R&D, relationship management, networks with counterparts, training, and decision-making processes.

  8. Transformation of sales channels, embracing Selling as a Service (SaaS), open cadet, and other innovative approaches.

  9. Shift in the purchasing audience, moving from early and innovative customers to the "beginning of the majority," where customers seek business solutions to specific problems, favoring approaches like Self-service.

  10. Mobile collaboration, predominantly on PDAs and mobile devices.


Furthermore, it is pertinent to consider WEB3.0 and WEB2.0. On the axes of knowledge and social networks:

  • WEB1.0 focuses on content and static knowledge.

  • WEB2.0 advances social networks and human connections.

  • WEB3.0 is poised to develop the knowledge axis by incorporating contextual elements into content and connections.

  • WEB4.0 will further evolve intelligence derived from synthesizing human input, content, and context, characterized by ubiquity – the ability to be present anytime, anywhere. We eagerly await these developments.


Processes:

Proper communication in Age 2.0

Communication involves more than just conveying messages. Each message has its own set of morals and receivers, and the interpretation of these is influenced by various parameters in both writing and reading, particularly in the 2.0 era. For the writer, sensations, observations, character, desired outcomes, ambient noises, and mood play pivotal roles. Meanwhile, the reader is constrained by interpretations, communication style, surrounding noises, influencing styles, and their approach to handling tension and conflict.


The significance of effective communication in the Web 2.0 era is underscored by the fact that messages are transmitted through a relatively flat channel, lacking the richness of human encounters and sound. The critical role of communication in fostering collaboration is paramount, as collaboration can only thrive with trust. To establish the necessary confidence, communication must navigate and overcome several obstacles:

  1. Lack of agreement on standard work methods and norms.

  2. Differences in personality styles.

  3. Disparate perceptions of positions.

  4. Varied interpretations and languages.

  5. Diverse sensations.

  6. Various needs and desirable approaches.

  7. Diverse cultures.

  8. Different perspectives.

  9. Urgency.

  10. Risks.


In addressing conflicts arising from poor communication, a three-stage approach is necessary:

  1. Unload tension.

  2. Manage sensations.

  3. Negotiate for regenerating cooperation.


Moving an organization to 2.0

The assessment of assimilating concepts and technologies, especially in collaboration, is categorized into five levels:

  1. Traditional collaboration: Involving telephones, emails, faxes, and face-to-face meetings.

  2. Collaborative islands - solution to focused problems Encompassing Audio/Video Conferencing, Team Sites, and Instant Messaging

  3. Prosperous collaborativeness: Involves several collaborative tools, including more advanced ones.

  4. Standardization and standardization: Signifying the transition to using multiple tools and directed policies.

  5. Collaborative overall environment: All tools align with policy, featuring integration with cellular services and a professional desktop interface (WEB-y) for all employees.


Most organizations currently operate at level 2, with some reaching level 3. To advance organizations towards a comprehensive, collaborative environment, the authors propose a 10-step methodology:

  1. Evaluation of the existing situation, encompassing technological, perceptual, and cultural aspects.

  2. Identifying critical areas (processes) where collaboration is vital can yield substantial leverage, such as marketing and sales, customer service, R&D, networks and external relationships, training, decision-making, and risk management.

  3. Development of a collaborative vision.

  4. Creation of a business case for collaboration within the organization, particularly in focused processes.

  5. Identification of a management sponsor capable of championing the cause and ensuring practical realization.

  6. Formulation of a collaborative strategy, including work processes, authorization policies, and technological infrastructure.

  7. Technology selection.

  8. Conducting a pilot program.

  9. Organizational launch, including training and implementation processes.

  10. Measurement and reporting.


Some success tips are recommended:

  • Initiate tool implementation where ROI opportunities are evident.

  • Integrate into critical workflows.

  • Ensure seamless integration with existing tools and processes.

  • Collect best practices throughout the process.

  • Identify a manager to champion usage who can recognize and reward others.

  • Effectively manage change.

  • Establish an appropriate permissions model for the organization.


Culture:

Culture and thinking for solutions

It is imperative to grasp the essence of organizational culture to comprehend the development of a collaborative culture. This encompasses:

  • The organization and operation of work.

  • The exercise and decentralization of authority.

  • How people are rewarded, organized, and managed in practice and perception.

  • Values and work concepts within teams.

  • The degree of formality, standardization, and control through systems.

  • The significance is placed on planning, analysis, logic, and fairness.

  • The level of innovation, risk tolerance, The place of the individual, and its boundaries.

  • Laws and expectations from employees, covering labor relations, dress code, and other subjects.

  • The emphasis on procedures, devices, and working based on performance and results, be it for the team or the individual.


In essence, culture comprises a collection of contexts encompassing the topics. According to Levine, one of the authors specializing in the proposed concept, creating and cultivating culture relies on establishing a preliminary agreement among partners. Collaborative cooperation is achieved through an Agreement for Results. The idea of results-oriented agreements is expounded below, and its realization hinges on understanding the principles of revolutionary thinking. The collaborative perspective underscores the following principles:

  1. Abundance – a belief in the rationale and feasibility of cooperation.

  2. Importance of creating and fostering effective collaboration.

  3. Creativity - viewing every conflict as an opportunity and encouraging creativity for resolution.

  4. Encouraging agreements and solutions.

  5. Openness - portraying openness as a positive attribute.

  6. Encouraging long-term collaboration - emphasizing beauty over competition (win-win).

  7. Combining rationale, sensations, and intuition to solve problems.

  8. Encouraging the disclosure and discovery of information; promoting exposure and discovery of sensations.

  9. Learning - recognizing that others have something to contribute and that integration enhances collective capabilities.

  10. Acceptance of responsibility.


Teamwork development

Recognizing the paramount importance of teamwork, its merits encompass:

  • Fostering individual commitment, contrary to conventional expectations.

  • Enhancing the quality, efficiency, creativity, and innovation of products.

  • Elevating job satisfaction levels.

  • Promoting advanced trust and communication.


Optimal team sizes typically range from 4 to 12 individuals, as larger groups often struggle to function as genuine teams. Key characteristics of effective teams include:

  • Shared goals and rewards.

  • Decision-making capability.

The creation of an efficient team is feasible when there is a clear definition involving:

  1. Intentions and vision

  2. Roles

  3. Promises - specifying what each team member will contribute.

  4. A defined timeframe for anticipated progress, articulating the value justifying the investment of time.

  5. Metrics for assessing satisfaction.

  6. Acknowledgment of concerns, considerations, and fears.

  7. Consent to realign goals and work methods if necessary.

  8. Understanding the implications of not working together (to underscore the importance of teamwork).

  9. A structured approach to conflict resolution.

  10. Consent to collaborative activities.


Outcome-oriented agreements

All collaborative endeavors are built upon a combination of explicit agreements, communicated in clear and open language, and implicit agreements, inferred from the understanding between partners. To uphold results-oriented agreements, Levine recommends comprehending the following principles:

  1. Effective collaboration is the bedrock of all quality personal and professional work, with better results arising from the elegantly expressed collaboration.

  2. Agreements form the foundation of company operations, permeating every aspect of its existence.

  3. Many individuals have yet to learn the components of an effective agreement.

  4. Clear agreements are empowering, articulating a shared vision and a pathway to achieve results.

  5. Clear agreements enhance the likelihood of satisfaction, establishing conditions for content customers, colleagues, suppliers, and friends to behave like a family.

  6. Experience contributes to establishing a foundation for better agreements.

  7. Collaborativeness and outcome-oriented agreements are straightforward, though only sometimes easy to implement. They necessitate clear thinking before action (teamwork) and a commitment to navigate challenging points, even post-commencement.

  8. Without meticulous planning, issues and conflicts may arise, requiring real-time resolution.

  9. Breakdowns should be viewed not as crises but as opportunities for creativity.

  10. Troubleshooting prompts the formulation of new agreements.


The components of a results-oriented agreement mirror those described in effective teamwork. Here are highlights for each clause (in contrast to contracts primarily aimed at protecting the customer):

  1. Intentions and vision: Desired output.

  2. Roles: Taking responsibility.

  3. Promises: Acceptance of commitment.

  4. Time and value: Ensuring a decent return and timeliness.

  5. Satisfaction indicators: Measured against predefined targets.

  6. Addressing concerns: Fostering empathy and understanding.

  7. Readjustment: Adapting to change and the unknown.

  8. Meanings: Reinforcing promises.

  9. Conflict resolution: Addressing issues without delay.

  10. Consent: Building trust repeatedly.


Conflict resolution

Acknowledging that conflicts can arise despite meticulous planning, it is crucial to recognize conflict resolution as an integral part of project, team, and collaborative management. Conflict resolution involves various stages associated with three overarching levels:

  • Discussion on the facts.

  • Discussion on sensations.

  • Discussion about the future.


The conflict resolution process comprises the following stages:

  1. Treating the conflict/agreement as an opportunity rather than a crisis (precondition).

  2. Storytelling – each participant takes turns narrating the entire story from their perspective without interruptions. Others listen attentively.

  3. Early envisioning of a solution. As they listen, Partners should attempt to formulate a solution that respects all involved parties throughout the process.

  4. Release. Each individual completes their narrative, focusing on dealing with emotions and providing an opportunity for expressing all the feelings in their heart. This step is crucial for letting go of the past and contemplating the future.

  5. Redefining a vision of the agreement. Proposing a general solution that outlines the future mode of conduct.

  6. The actual agreement – defining the agreement's specifics, encompassing all stages described in previous chapters (vision, responsibilities, promises, etc.).

  7. Actual solution and renewed teamwork.


As emphasized earlier, all chapters, particularly those about culture, can be applied with and without a connection to collaboration (incredibly collaborative 2.0). They serve as essential prerequisites for implementation in knowledge management processes and various organizational procedures.

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