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Collaboration: It’s flowing in our veins

28 Dec

This is about the first of the 4Cs –the power (and the potential) to collaborate.

Like you, I occasionally come across people who find it hard to work in the same sand box.  But the good thing is these people and these instances are few and far between.

They are typically suspicious of newbies, protective of their work (or job description), or have an inflated opinion of their contribution to the big picture. (Someone down the road handed them the biggest crayon in the box, and they’re still holding onto it!)

But just looking around, we see plenty of examples and tools that enable collaboration. My favorite examples are how easy it is to work together on a document, via a wiki such as WetPaint, or a sharing tool such as Google docs.

Collaboration is much more than the ‘two heads are better than one’ concept, even though that’s at its core. It’s not something that only came about with the Facebook generation, either.

Two very different examples:

1. Butterflies:

I recall a project called Journey North that began somewhere in 2002. One of the collaborative projects involved students from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico collaborating on collecting data to track the journey of the Monarch butterfly. Some 300,000 students from 6,000 schools have taken part in this!

2. Media coverage

In 2008, for four days gunmen took over and terrorised hotels and other building sin the heart of Mumbai, India. Cell phone networks were overloaded, media were unable to get close to the shootings, and the bets reports were coming via text messages and via Twitter.

Within minutes, a journalism professor Sree Sreenivasan from Columbia University pulled together a radio show via a blog platform called BlogTalkRadio to cover the event using Mumbai-based media people, experts on Homeland Security and others.

So whether it is GoogleWave today, or BlogTalkRadio last year, we know that we all have the collaborative gene in us. The organizations we work for often urge us to be involved. In the past that has meant ‘anything but PR/marketing, corporate communications’ since they employed special people for that. Today, many employers —and government–realize that unless they tap into the collective brainpower through collaborative policies and tools, they could be left behind.

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