“..I am just so confused about all the overlapping collaboration tools that I have to really think hard every time I want to access one of them…its crazy, there must be a simpler and easier way to do this and somehow knit them all together ?..“
I was conducting user requirements phone interviews with users from across our network and this one was no different from many of the others I had sat through in the past 2 weeks. What I was hearing was the reality of a user’s daily experience in an organisation that had adopted a patchwork of technologies over a period of time – some of which had stuck and some which had just not been adopted to the extent that had originally been intended. In some cases the tools had themselves introduced further challenges, including causing confusion and overlapping with similar but different initiatives – as well as creating dead end silos where information ended up going to die. I hate to even think about the wasted $$ amounts in terms of the lost productivity. Don’t get me started on that…
Creating a bold vision for the future
I’m sure, like me, there are lots of folks facing this exact same scenario in other organisations right now. The more you talk to your users, the more obviously this problem stands out but how do we begin to address it? Well for me it starts with defining a clear PoV / vision for what our future state workplace should look like through the eyes and day to day experience of the end user. This must be truly holistic rather than being another roadmap to trot out standard upgrades to existing tools. Coupled with this we must emulate learnings from the rapid growth in consumer world technology which our users make use of in their everyday lives. Boundaries between the corporate systems and consumer tech are blurring and we need to capitalise on this in order to allow our people to be more engaged, more productive and more willing to use the future systems. An example is the simplicity of a well designed mobile app in a world where everyone has a smartphone v the sour taste of an unwieldy legacy system desktop experience.
For me this is about firstly acknowledging from top down (leadership) as well as bottom up (end users) that the status quo presents a huge problem and that we must commit to address it. Users want to be able to seamlessly connect and collaborate with one another as a natural part of a business process – not as a separate step that requires them to remember how to get to tool x, to launch it, make a posts etc… and then have to return to their initial starting point once done.
Secondly it is about defining what a single user centric digital workspace with collaboration capabilities baked into it, and that is seamlessly integrated across the digital landscape, will look and feel like. It must be founded on priority end user needs, as well as be contextual to where and how users get work done. If we paint this vision, coupled with strong leadership buy in and in close partnership with sister functions such as Comms, ITS, HR, we can start to work on telling the story and engaging users around it. Then we can start to work in a common direction that we can all work towards rather than finding ourselves going through the next cycle of serving up more of the same and just upgrading what we have.