The culprit can be a singular issue. Perhaps your organization over-relies on group emails or one-to-one in-person conversations. Maybe meetings are overused or non-productive. Or cross-functional collaboration tends to be limited to sharing information rather than working together in real time to sustain teamwork. Possibly it’s the simplest of digital office tools, like shared drives, that aren’t used to their full extent—particularly across departments.
Most likely, though, the issue lies with not having a collaboration and digital workplace strategy.
.orgSource has been working with clients to improve information sharing and collaboration through more effective use of digital office tools. We’ve even been examining our own operations—and making improvements. One thing that’s very clear: evolving a more robust digital office environment requires a multi-dimensional solution. The .orgSource approach includes considering at least eight organizational dimensions:
- Management Leadership. Establish clear priorities and set expectations. Perhaps most important, the senior management team needs to lead by example in their own use of digital tools for collaboration and information sharing.
- Cultural transformation. Address the underlying organizational culture, moving from passive to active cross-functional interactions. This includes shifting from sharing documents via email and working independently to teamwork, knowledge sharing, real-time collaboration and strategic thinking.
- Supportive structures. Implement data governance policies, organization-wide digital workplace systems, and clarity about team roles and responsibilities.
- Process changes. Create standard processes for information sharing, meetings, and decision making. For example, establish common naming conventions for files, provide a clear file structure on shared directories, and ensure meetings have a clear purpose and a well-defined agenda.
- Tools/systems considerations. Determine and address current pain points for staff, determining if investing in new digital office systems is needed or, as often is the case, if there are opportunities to implement aspects of systems that already exist in the organization (e.g., taking advantage of the collaboration capabilities of Office 365).
- Training. Provide ongoing training in a variety of ways—in-person and self-directed—to ensure continual use and buy-in of digital office operations. One-time exposure during onboarding or annual all-staff “training” is not sufficient.
- Metrics. Measure performance including: the ability to achieve objectives, meet deadlines and budgets; staff perceptions of collaboration and efficiency; and the adoption of collaborative tools and processes.
- Reinforcement. Reward targeted behaviors, including use of praise by management when witnessing desired team behaviors, multi-functional involvement when evaluating proposals, and continual training across the organization.
As a consultancy serving associations, we are not immune to our own opportunities for process improvement. .orgSource has enhanced its efficiency by focusing on many of the same things we advise clients. In some cases, we simply decided to adopt new functionality available through tools and systems we were already using. We now use Office 365 groups to coordinate communication as well as share and archive documents. We enjoy real-time collaboration and synchronization on Word, PPT and Excel documents. We use digital task management tools to track assignments and meet obligations. We instituted a file naming convention so we can find and retrieve documents easier from shared drives. And we continue to focus on multi-functional teamwork, blending the distinct expertise of our consultants.
These clearer organizational processes and cloud-based management tools coupled with our culture of transparency, open communication and accountability has done volumes for our operations.