Cracking the Nut of the Collaboration Carrot


About a month ago, our editorial team here at IT Business Edge launched what I'd describe as a "power blog" to help disseminate information to our internal team and our far-flung freelance contributors, who span the country, from Long Island to the Bay area.


So far, I have been delighted with the technology I chose for the project, a hosted solution from Squarespace. For about $30 bucks a month, we get a private site with role-based privileges, multiple blogs and discussion boards. There's no wiki (yet -- I imagine some such functionality might be on the way via the magic of SaaS), but the platform does offer component-based administration that's so simple that even a vice president can do it.


What I have not been delighted with so far is our utilization of what should be a handy tool. After a flurry of collaboration on a few functional drafts for new site features and the like, our little team site has sat idle for a week or two.


And I am ultimately to blame.


It occurs to me that in a small shop -- and we are definitely on the small end of the SMB continuum here -- collaboration is a well that needs to be pumped, at least for a good long while until those creative juices get into the habit of following. One of my editors notes that since the team in the home office works in such close proximity to each other, we tend to simply swivel in our chairs and ask, "Whadya think about this for a blog post?" as opposed to running out to a discussion forum and asking for broader feedback.


Of course, that's exactly the kind of brain leak that knowledge management in all its forms aims to resolve. And it's not doing our freelance editors any good, either. Not surprisingly, our remote team members have actually been the keenest on asking for resources to be posted to the team site.


It's clear that at least for next few months, I and our EIC are going to have to make time to force-feed our fledgling collaborative machine. I imagine that our challenge is a little different than that for tech teams, who are more accustomed to working with change management and other shared info systems. And I'm personally hesitant to "force" employees to collaborate via the system -- I can't imagine anything more counter-intuitive. Web 2.0 is supposed to be about the carrot, not the stick.


I'd be very interested in any comments from our readers about how they've encouraged adoption of a collaborative tool, particularly a free-form one such as a blog or BBS.



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