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Collaboration bright spots and change

Sparks fily in a circle, The performer slings them around.

Collaboration bright spots and change

When you’re challenged to improve collaboration, or rolling out new ways of working, look for the bright spots within your organisation where things are working well already.

Take a look at the third video (7 minutes), produced by Igloo Software, which may need you to register, taken from a recent webinar I led for them. Browse this series of intranet mini-projects, or read on to learn how to find the exemplar bright spots within your organisation.

Tip 3 Video: Find the collaboration bright spots
Video: Find a collaboration bright spot.
Book cover: Switch.

The term ‘bright spot’ comes from the book Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I highly recommend the book if you want to further your thinking on change management.

What’s refreshing about Switch is that they identify that we tend to talk about organisational change as this great big scary thing, which always feels so enormous that we don’t do it. Certainly, it’s too much for an intranet team to take on, your job isn’t to change your organisation. Instead Chip and Dan say, ‘there is a way to effect change which doesn’t involve trying to change everything. It involves finding some point of focus’. That makes it more feasible.

Often when I’m working with clients, there’ll be someone who comes along and says, “we need to improve collaboration, so we’ve got to change our culture”. But it really isn’t that easy. What you need, is an inroad – the ‘bright spots’.

The idea of bright spots

Imagine you’ve got two students. The first student’s report card shows mostly As and one F. Your natural tendency may be to zoom in on that F and ask ‘what needs fixing?’.

Two report cards.

Now the second student’s report card shows mostly Fs and one C. If you ask what needs fixing, the answer could be ‘almost everything’. Daunting. But if you focus on that C, that bright spot, you can flip your focus around and ask about what’s working, and what can be done to make the other subjects become similar to the C subject. Where did it all go right?

Finding your own bright spots

Applying the bright spot theory to your organisation, let’s say you want to improve how people collaborate and reduce the reliance on sending documents as attachments in email. You might get strong pushback at first, people will say they’re too busy doing ‘real work’, and old habits die hard of course. There’s always some reason to revert to old ways of working ‘just this one time’.

So you need to show people the bright spots; you need to show people areas in the business where the new ways are working well. Show people that their arguments are not true in this case.

There’s a nice example from British Airways; they were developing a new cabin design and the engineering crew posted some pictures and the cabin crew (probably thousands of miles away in layover hotels) were able to say where improvements could be made, based on working experience. They posted sketches and comments, and the engineering team in Wales were able to take on board initial and immediate feedback without some expensive official feedback process.

Showing how colleagues benefit from new ways of working demonstrates the possibility of change, and showcases your positive, collaborative culture.

This is the third topic in a five-part series of intranet mini-projects you can repeatably perform to improve your intranet and employee experience.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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