What drives collaboration? It is not the latest collaboration software, offering eye-popping features and kick-ass integration. It is the desire of teams to collaborate. Like the proverbial horse, you can lead a team to collaboration, but you can’t make them collaborate.
On of my projects now I’m working with an amazing team of great software developers. The team is small, there are 6 of us. The velocity of the project is great with 2-week sprints delivering minimally viable product at each iteration. The team simply must collaborate in order to survive and to keep on top of the project.
Before I joined the project, the team chose Basecamp from 37signals. Basecamp wouldn’t have been my first choice. Having used Quickr, Connections, SharePoint, I find Basecamp somewhat primitive, lacking features that I’m used to with other packages. But it is not the strengths or weaknesses of Basecamp that determine my teams’ ability to collaborate. It is the team’s desire to collaborate that drives collaboration.
All team members religiously engage in discussions, posting updates and tracking their progress on Basecamp. Basecamp has also become a vehicle for outbound communication from the team to other stakeholders in the organization. When the project will be done, all of the project’s history and all of its intellectual capital will be in Basecamp.
It is a dream come true for many organizations trying to foster internal collaboration, trying to harvest the wealth of knowledge locked in employees’ heads and often lost with them. It is a problem that organizations try to solve with this or that latest software. But if there’s no desire to share, if collaboration is not being fostered, then no amount of bells and whistles can fix it.