Are we killing the collaboration cow?

An article in the January-February issue of the Harvard Business Review highlights that the distribution of collaborative work is lopsided. The article claims that 20-35% of value-added collaboration comes from 3-5% of employees. (I suspect that the numbers are even more lopsided in support organizations). Of course, these poor souls are overworked and under-happy. Here are some solutions highlighted in the article:

  • Encourage the sought-after folks to place boundaries around their collaborative work, both time boundaries and boundaries on what they will participate in.
  • Leverage tools and space to make collaboration easy. Slack and Chatter are noted, but also good old-fashioned locating employees physically close to each other.
  • Change the jobs of experts. The example in the article is that of a “nurse preceptor” — exactly the idea of our backline engineers, whose role is to assist other support engineers rather than the clients themselves.
  • Revamp the metrics to capture assists, not just solo work.

What are you doing to make experts’ jobs easier?

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