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Ann Augustine

Ann's Collaboration Tools Blog


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Wikis in Public Online Communities

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Wiki tools for collaboration and knowledge exchange are not only practical but cost effective in developing public online communities. In fact, wikis are one of the essential content types in social software, in addition to blogs, forums, and commenting activity streams.

My profile of XWiki describes how the notable, cloud-based wiki and downloadable open source software products are used in public and private communities. In particular, the company XWiki SAS has supported a non-profit healthcare advocacy community in Canada that shows significant progress in what you can do with wikis.

In several other collaboration tools used for developing online communities, you will see more examples where the online community helps to bridge communication gaps, learning, and customer feedback.

To make the online community experience worthwhile, sponsors will look at developing specific outcomes. Interactive communities, as cited in the XWiki healthcare project, can offer valuable resources to patients and healthcare providers, nurture trust within the community, and help teams and communities collaborate.

Because wikis are easy to build and maintain, essentially everyone benefits.

Why Software Trials and Engagement Help Make Better Decisions

Friday April 18, 2014

Why Software Trials and Engagement Help Make Better Decisions

What may be a project sponsor's worst nightmare? When there is a software investment and only then, he or she will realize the software is complicated and no one likes the way it works.

Today's software makers understand the changing dynamics of project management software, for example, that often involves many users, as well as coordination between departments and sometimes outside consultants. If a software company does not offer a free trial, I would venture to say, don't buy it. Use these tips to help guide your selection before you buy new software:

Involve users of the software -- giving the software to users to try before you buy will save time, costs, and will help you make better decisions. Understand when citizen developers, a term used to represent business users, who can see the value in applications that help the business, will need to be involved.

Comindware Project is a new project collaboration tool I reviewed that demonstrates how easy project management software can be. Read about Comindware Project and see how this company runs their software trial.

Involve leaders who want to improve -- in Seven Things Great Employers Do on HBR.org, the authors spell out the elements that impact culture and team engagement. First, involve leaders who want to work on improving themselves. Sounds a bit flippant, but leader's involvement signals engagement. Everyone has to get past the disenchantment that happens if leaders are not engaged.

Plan for set up and training costs -- users typically have fear of new software, especially if they don't know how to use it. Furthermore, learning software takes time. John Gabrick, CEO of MindMatters, an innovation management software company says organizations should spend 10-20 percent of the total cost of software documenting the functional requirement--for your own company's specific use.

Read Gabrick's and other tips to help manage costs and customization.

Compare 3 or 4 software products --  create a pros and cons table and enable everyone to share their ideas and opinions. Your time spent up front to make decisions that are right for your company and your team's unique needs are well worth the effort.

Image copyright Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

Seasonal Approach to Feeding Our Business Networks

Tuesday April 15, 2014

gardening is like networkingOur business network is much like a garden. In spring, we amend the soil, get plants in the ground, then water, weed, and fertilize all summer long until harvest.

In the fall and winter, we share lessons learned and new gardening ideas with friends in our community (always a great topic at parties).

In my contact with Nancy Fox, a business strategist and advisor in Los Angeles, she shared tips for improving the way we network.

Nancy and I dug into the roots of networking, including obstacles along the way, as you will see in Networking in All the Right Places. As any gardener knows, you need to rotate your crops, like tomatoes and plant them in a different spot in the garden, much like you would do to meet new people.

In a similar way to gardening, a seasonal approach to networking may require us to review key strategies. We harvested two regimens needed to nurture our networks: new resources and social intelligence. Read about the insightful ways you can pursue to get out of your comfort zone. Let your network flourish.

Photo copyright John Rensten/Getty Images

PM Rock Star Tips in Managing Time, Cost, and Quality

Friday April 11, 2014

The PM Rock Star TipsThe project costs are running rampant, but quality and schedule are intact. If you are a project manager (PM), would you panic?

Think of a three-legged stool, where each of the legs are represented by time, cost, and quality.

These three legs of a stool are the same principles applied in project management's triple constraint. PM rock stars understand the art of project management is being well-balanced across all three constraints. The science of the triple constraint is excelling at managing all three with equal attention (see Southern Illinois University Symposium on Project Management).

But the three-legged stool concept, especially professional services, means at least two of the legs must remain constant for the project to succeed. If one of the three legs requires support, say costs are greater than expected, you don't necessarily lose the integrity of the project. This means project quality control and assurance comes at a price.

Keep in mind if you were to lose the integrity of two legs, the three-legged stool could not stand on its own. Think about it.

How can you improve project performance to manage all three constraints? The PM rock star suggests ranking the business priority of the triple constraints so you know where the project stands. Then, you will have to keep communication open and transparent between everyone on the project.

Additional resources:

How Collaboration Can Work for Business
Create the Opportunity to be Part of Something Greater
Are You a Citizen Developer of Business Applications?

Photo copyright Jacobs Stock Photography/Getty Images

In Collaboration Tip: I'll Call You Later

Wednesday April 9, 2014

In Collaboration Tip: I'll Call You Later

This question will make you think.

Can you walk two dogs and talk on your cell phone at the same time?

I anticipate you know the answer (given at the end). My iPhone gives me options to Respond with Text (as pictured) if I am busy. My favorite one is "I'll call you later."

If you're like me, I prefer to stay in touch as quick as I can, whether it is voice, text, or email. So I'm getting in the habit when the phone rings and I can't answer it to select a quick response that immediately sends a text message to my caller. BTW, you can customize your own text message, too.

In my chat with co-founder of A Shop Called Brooklyn, Chaz Mee made it clear the value of conversation. In this fast-paced world, people need to feel instantly connected. Find out the technologies the creative agency relies on in, Brand Incubator Reveals New Breed of Technology Users.

And now...there are actually several answers to the above question: Yes, you can walk two dogs and talk on the phone if you're:  1. Wearing a bluetooth device. 2. Using your phone speaker.  3. Dogs are running free.

Two Heads are Better Than One: From Sesame Street to Shared Leadership

Friday April 4, 2014

Sesame Street Workshop: Research Model of Collaboration
We learn about collaboration at a young age. Class projects, group discussions, and Sesame Street give us many ideas and make reference to why two heads are better than one. (See Youtube video of Herry singing a song for the Two-Headed Monster).

In contemporary times, the discussion of shared leadership in education is drawing attention to how co-principals in Essex, England have made shared executive authority work in the high school environment.  Read also, Nick Morrison on Forbes, "Two Heads are Better Than One: A Model of Shared Leadership." Morrison presents the case for shared leadership, perhaps in government and business, to invigorate leadership and make better decisions.

My collaborative tip this week has to do with co-authoring and editing of documents together that many professionals have come to rely on, including executives, lawyers, engineers, and marketing professionals. Read more about Collaborative Editing Tips and Tools.

In the coming years, more opportunities for collaborations will advance research, lead nations, and teach our children through experimental approaches that will tell the story as it unfolds. Co-founder of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney, in 1968 said, "We want to emphasize the Children's Television Workshop is an experiment."

Today, Sesame Street is in over 150 countries internationally offering a research model of collaboration--to borrow the words of the Sesame Workshop, " to crack the code of learning."

Photo copyright Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images Entertainment

Everyone has Creative Potential

Thursday April 3, 2014

In hisSir Paul McCartney groundbreaking book, challenging our educational systems and corporations to value creativity, Sir Ken Robinson has a message that excludes no one. Everyone has creative potential, says Robinson, in Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.

Robinson sees people disengaged in the workforce as lacking creative confidence. And there are the naysayers that say we don't have an ounce of creativity. I recommend reading Out of Our Minds, simply to help you put creativity in the right perspective -- everyone has creative potential.

Talent has been squandered by old ways of thinking -- a systemic mindset that only certain people are creative, like artists or musicians. Even so, Paul McCartney in his youth didn't like music. And Sir McCartney's teacher didn't think he had talent, as Robinson said he found out through an interview with him.

My leadership topic, Unleashing Your Organization's Creative Potential for Innovation includes a brief background of Robinson's book that will help you and your organization start igniting creativity.

Several principles adapted from Robinson's book will also help to drive change throughout your organization. Be sure to read through the examples covered -- you will want to see everyone play to their creative strengths.

Paul McCartney image copyright 2012. Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Roar of March Madness, Spring, and Tax Season

Monday March 31, 2014

Roar of March Madness, Spring, and Tax SeasonWhat does March Madness, spring, and tax season have in common?

The lion's roar, like no other social animal right now, can speak for the end of the month of March, in these key areas of interest:

March Madness offers some of the best basketball of the year. The Road to Redemption tells the story, by John Marshall of The Associated Press on NCAA.com.

Spring cold snaps, and the famous idiom take a twist in March goes out, but not like a lamb, by About.com's weather columnist, Tiffany Means.

Tax Season -- does filing taxes make you feel out of control? Help tame your lion or lioness in Reducing Tax Season Stress by Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Heads up for April! Read the next month's editorial calendar in my Collaboration Tools Newsletter, which is delivered free to your inbox every Monday.

Favorite quote for the day: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."  English Club provides a detailed description of the origin of this quote.

Image copyright Anup Shah/Getty Images

TGIF: $5, a Cup of Coffee, and Team Productivity

Friday March 28, 2014

The cost-benefit of team apps need only be $5, a cup of coffee, and team productivity.

In this day and age, it really doesn't matter what device you're using. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies and the prevalence of low cost software-as-a-service (SaaS) help teams streamline their work together. You will be surprised to see the productivity in these five team apps:

Glip: a team collaboration platform can't get simpler than Glip. Glip is "state aware", the technical jargon for syncing your information in real-time on all devices. Read about Glip

Google: team productivity can be accomplished through wiki pages, task lists, and the social integration using Google + social tools (chat, hangout, group posting). For organizations standardized on Google Drive, Google is a great choice. Read about Google

Flow: teamwork, whether you're involved on the project or not, is quite handy in Flow. Task pages become the shared workspace to share conversations and attach files to. Read about Flow

SharePoint Online: effective for entire organizations standardized on Microsoft products, SharePoint Online can help connect people across departments (instead of email!). Office 365 is affordable, which includes SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server also includes the online service. Read about SharePoint Online

Chatter: The Do.com service for team productivity offered by Salesforce.com is now discontinued (effective 1/31/2014). If your preference is for Salesforce.com products, try Chatter. Read about Chatter

Learning Appreciative Inquiry to Focus on What Works Well

Wednesday March 26, 2014

Professor John Hayes of Leeds Business School, UK spread his positive message on appreciative inquiryYoutube about appreciative inquiry, a technique that focuses on what is working well in our relationships, the workplace, and life in general. Why is appreciative inquiry relevant in collaboration? "By viewing the world more positively we can try and identify opportunities that can be embraced," says Hayes.

Now there is an app for that. Really, you can learn about appreciative inquiry with the app, Embracing Change, created by published author and expert on appreciative inquiry, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, and developed by Polymash, Inc. Read: Embracing Change App Helps Discover Your Strengths.

Also, one of my leadership topics  focuses on changing competitive behavior to collaborative leadership. I talked with John Anderson, principal of Glowan, a company specializing in leadership training programs. In particular, this program, Collaborative Advantage™ introduces collaboration into your organization and replaces the competitiveness with collaboration.

These strategies, 10 Ways to Change Competitive Behavior to Collaborative Leadership came out of our discussion that starts with using the technique of appreciative inquiry.

Try appreciative inquiry in your organization to discover what is the best and why, and then explore the possibilities of amplifying the best, says Professor Hayes.

Image copyright Flying Colours Ltd./Getty Images

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