NICK OOSTERVINK | Former Researcher, KIN Center for Digital Innovation, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
PROF. BART VAN DEN HOOFF | Professor of Organizational Communication and Information Systems, KIN Center for Digital Innovation, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Organizations introduce collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace, to stimulate communication and collaboration across hierarchies and silos. However, many firms struggle to successfully get their workers to adopt these new technologies. The result is that both management and employees are frustrated, and neither of them become more collaborative. What are the reasons these collaboration initiatives do not always live up to their expectations and how can this be overcome?
In this article we discuss four major dilemmas that firms need to address in order to increase the chances of their initiatives becoming a success. First, the scope: is the goal of the project a repository of best practices, or a collaborative space for (work-related) exchange of ideas? Second, design of the tool: should it match the expectation of what management envisions, or should it match (and thereby amplify) current work practices? Third, the implementation strategy: should you go for a top-down implementation with champions and KPIs, or does it make sense to “just let go” and let users play around? And fourth, project governance: should you focus on the quantitative data, or on qualitative evaluations of end-users?
Addressing these dilemmas will enhance focus, and ultimately help address the question of how to manage the
implementation and use of collaboration tools in relation to broader organizational change: do you want to ‘disrupt’ or ‘augment’ existing ways of working?