Ahead of our next Group Think event in May (co-produced with the Barbican Centre), on the subject of collaboration, we've been talking to some of our friends, colleagues and clients about how collaboration fits into their lives and work. So we sent out a little questionnaire and, over the next few weeks, we'll be publishing what everyone told us.
This week it's the turn of our friend and uber-collaborator Bob Schukai from Thomson Reuters. We'll let Bob introduce himself but I'd like to point you at Bob's twitter profile, @iammobilebob, where he tweets prolifically on all things mobile and tech.
Who are you and what do you do?
Robert Schukai - Global Head of Mobile Technology at Thomson Reuters. My job is to oversee the entire corporate mobility strategy for the company ranging from technology and platforms to product line management, business development and monetization opportunities, and ensure we deliver best in class user experiences.
Why do you collaborate?
Our company has over 55,000 employees. I've found that there is a tremendous pent-up desire amongst many of these to play a part in our mobile strategy whether it is user interface definition, product development, and innovation. Collaboration allows me to set up different workstreams across the company so that people can unleash their passion in areas where we need additional thinking around our mobile efforts.
Which collaboration tools do you like and why?
We use the Jive platform internally quite well; I also find that bog standard tools like Skype are great for a quick face to face call or small group call. For bigger meetings, we also have Cisco Telepresence capability within the company.
When does collaboration tend to work best?
It works best when you have a workstream that is well defined, a passionate leader, and people willing to make a difference.
What framework or rules do you need for successful collaboration?
Successful collaboration needs good planning; needs to understand when to open up projects to a wider team; and maybe most importantly, needs to understand when "too many cooks spoil the broth." Sooner or later, decisions and delivery have to result from a collaboration project and there needs to be a leader who has the job of making a final decision.
Briefly describe a collaboration you admire and tell us why you think it works.
I think the entire open source community is a great example of one to admire. Whether it is creating unique and cool custom software ROMs for Android devices or the team of people who jailbreak iPhones - there is something to be said for having a mission, working on it together, and then delivering the goods. All of open source really requires collaboration to make it the success story it is today.
When has collaboration gone wrong for you?
In a previous life, collaboration went completely pear-shaped as a result of some people not wanting to play nicely in the sandbox with their peers. There is nothing wrong with differences of opinion - and you do need that to get successful collaboration. That said, if you attempt to undermine the efforts of others by not being open and transparent, you have no business being a part of a collaborative team. I think a "do-differently" on my part would be to directly confront individuals like this to see if they want to play a part in trying to create something or are just there to find a way to screw with others.