Collaboration strategy and prototypes for a global advertiser

Overview

We worked for one of the world’s largest advertising organisations – a global organisation setup to run the ad buying and technology for a network of key advertising companies.

The head of one of one of their global departments bought me in to develop a collaboration strategy.

Key Activities:
Programme Strategy and Analysis
Prototyping using Jive social business software
Workflow prototyping with SharePoint
Internal briefings and analysis papers
Executive and team coaching

The company had a mixture of broad goals ‘our global team needs to work smarter’ and specific actions ‘sweat the resource of supplier knowledge’ goals.

One aspect of this engagement was particularly interesting – the platform they’d just installed, Jive, is an interesting ‘social business platform that has internalised a lot of the ideas and approaches I think really work for collaboration.

Build a ‘Collaboration first’ culture

The department consisted of teams working across London, New York and Singapore, as well as outside consultants working in multiple timezones and locations.
A key challenge was to get the core teams, and suppliers to operating with a collaboration-first mentality
A key goal was to enable these teams to minimise the friction of ‘passing the baton’ of project work as timezones passed.

Accessible expertise and ‘memory’ from projects

Team members experience and expertise developed through the stages of project delivery, but their expertise and experience was never explicitly ‘captured’ and shared with across business units – the expertise and experiences were essentially edited, and ‘locked’ into the team’s final deliverables.
As a result, the organisation’s ‘memory’ of a project was usually limited within final deliverables and documents – without pre-emptively talking to a project team member, it was hard for other employees to access the day-to-day lessons and experiences from the project.

Make stakeholder reviews an ongoing process

A key part of the company’s programme delivery is review from stakeholder boards. Typically, these happen at pre-determined checkpoints.
A goal was to publish an ongoing narrative for a programme, that allowed stakeholders to both understand, and get involved in a programme’s activity at any time.

What we did

To develop a ‘collaboration first’ culture, I focused on the ‘pre-process’ work – where teams work on new ideas, and problems (and solutions) are defined before the business is capable of ‘embedding’ a process in reactions.

Pre-process is where employees apply the most creativity, use (and connect) their experiences and expertise and generates the highest value to the business.

Together with teams, we created prototype process ‘flows’ in Jive that focused on using Jive pages as an instant, revision controlled workspace, where every iteration would be published on a daily basis, for other team members to pick up the ‘baton’ and create further revisions.

Commentary was also pushed into Jive, so conversations were connected to iterations.

The technical implementation was pretty straightforward. At this early stage, where people are focused on outputs, a focus on documents and ‘work’ is a more effective ‘on ramp’ that the default focus on people. So, I configured Jive to focus around documents as the primary social ‘objects’ that exposed activity and changes.

I coached teams at an individual level, explaining and reinforcing the benefits of the new processes we were prototyping.

Outcomes

I framed the delivered benefits around 3 key collaboration goals:

Teams: what are people doing (tasks, updates)?
Ideas: what are the key ideas and conversations taking place?
Status: project and programme status for stakeholders

We prototyped different configurations and processes, focusing on the ‘pre-process’ work I’d identified as providing most business value, but had been given least support from current systems.

With feedback from the team, and measuring outputs, we ‘incubated’ the best practices and applications, writing detailed lessons learned and passing onto the core IT team to formalise and build into the core production environment, thus amplifying the benefits to teams across the organisation.

Related Research

Research notes and briefings related to this case study:

How do we design working environments to be collaborative?

Making sharepoint social

Wikis vs. SharePoint – is it an either/or problem?

 

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