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Three best practices for moving to a culture of XC

26 Dec 12

CIOs and business managers will fail in their efforts to improve business performance outcomes through business process management (BPM) if they cannot overcome major barriers to cross-functional communication and collaboration.

That is according to research group Gartner who says business leaders can avoid this failure by embracing extreme collaboration (XC), a new operating model and an extreme style of collaboration.

XC is enabled by combing four nexus forces into a pattern that can dramatically innovate the way people behave, communicate, work together and maintain relationships — often across wide organisational and geographic boundaries — to collectively deliver breakthrough process performance.

"Collaboration is a critical activity in many operational business processes, both structured and unstructured," says Janelle Hill, VP, Gartner.

"An XC environment is essentially a virtual war room or crisis center, where people can come together to collaboratively work on a shared purpose.

"This environment is available 24/7, thus enabling people to work when, where and how they need to in order to meet shared goals and outcomes.

"What makes it extreme is people's willingness to cross geographic, organisational, political, management boundaries, to pool their collective skills and resources to solve problems and move toward the attainment of a shared, ambitious goal."

Six best practices for moving to a culture of XC:

• Foster the Use of Virtual, Web-Based Collaboration Spaces in People's Daily Jobs

Gartner believes that one way to spur novel forms of collaboration is to select an activity currently handled through traditional methods, such face-to-face meetings or email, and encourage it to take place in a virtual, likely Web-based, collaboration space instead.

These environments are easily accessed and almost always available. Virtual environments used to host such spaces can range from process collaboration environments to social networks or on-premises collaborative and social media tools.

Experimenting and gaining experience with such virtual collaboration is critical to XC, because an XC environment virtually operates in the same vicinity where the people do their daily jobs.

The always on/always available characteristic of an XC environment means this type of extremely collaborative behaviour can be dynamically incorporated into processes as an ad hoc activity.

▪ Exploit the Value of Near-Real-Time Communication Addiction

The surge in real-time, or near-real-time, communication activities, such as texting, tweeting or updating Facebook, is not just a fad and businesses should embrace and encourage such behavior.

Establishing real-time communication habits in the workplace enables a freer flow of information and more proactive notifications, so that people can respond more quickly to unexpected events and business disruptions.

This can address the common problem of information being constrained and delayed through formal communication channels that run up and down the organisational hierarchy, or through defined email and need-to-know distribution lists.

Real-time communication can break entrenched behaviors of relying on the management hierarchy to distribute information appropriately and, thereby, help overcome some of the communication-related problems associated with organisational politics.

• Use Crowdsourcing and Popular Social Media Tools to Facilitate Dynamic Communities and Collaboration

One good way to kick-start the mind-set for extreme collaboration is to host a "tweet jam" to trigger a dynamic community to brainstorm on a problem.

This involves simply setting a time and topic, and encouraging people to participate and get working.

Unlike a conversation in a meeting room, all communication is captured so there's a clear record of what was discussed, who contributed ideas, and which participants excelled at facilitating discussions and problem-solving.

Crowdsourcing is also proving to be very effective for bringing together people — who often didn't previously know each other — to tackle shared problems. Although not XC, per se; crowdsourcing is another style of collaboration.