Functional vs. Optimal
Sure, traditional business institutions are still functional. I work for a business that is a hybrid of traditional and virtual structures. I’m talking about finding the right balance. Functional is good. But “functional” is not the same as “optimal.”
Rigid institutions that rely on information exclusivity are forced to deal with the increasing pressure from the open-source, cooperative business world. Forced is a strong word. But maintaining a competitive edge will often force businesses to think differently about how they function.
Companies that engage in online collaboration are gaining leverage every day.
What is the difference?
Traditional business institutions require advanced planning. With all of the overhead and financial obligations, planning is necessary. However, online collaboration replaces planning with effective coordination and creates flexibility which makes effective coordination possible.
Did you get that?
Flexibility allows people to get their job done from anywhere. In a traditional business structure, this level of flexibility is not possible. Why? Because there is too much emphasis on the brick and mortar location. Online collaboration is taking your entire business and making everything virtually accessible to your employees no matter where they are in the world.
More progressive business owners are making this move everyday.
What do I mean by coordination?
Coordination means that you assume the role of the leader.
Your job is to organize the necessary players and clearly articulate the goal. With the goal set, the players are free to operate in the environment that best suits them.
You will be able to track progress, assign tasks, and communicate with clients from anywhere using a project management app. (We know a good one!) This autonomy and flexibility create the perfect conditions for optimized productivity and innovation.
Building Trust Online
Virtual teams are the tactical offspring of online collaboration. (Now you know where tactical babies come from… I digress.) An interesting TED talk by Rachel Botsman states that trust is the currency of the new economy.
But how do you measure trust? EBay answered this by introducing the User Feedback feature. Now, feedback is everywhere. You can’t even sell toothpicks online without getting detailed feedback about your product’s performance. Trust is the new currency and feedback is the measurement of that trust.
It’s just as easy to read feedback about people you are looking to hire. If they are offering a service or product, they usually have examples of their work available per your request. It is easy to find reliable people you can trust.
Come Together… Right Now
Team-building can be one of the challenges of online collaboration. Effective leaders often use unique business styles to create a cohesive team.
Once you’ve established who you can count on, it’s easy to contact them on a project-by-project basis. This is one of the great things of online collaboration.
Don’t be Stubborn
Online collaboration is the biggest development in information sharing since the printing press.
There were lots of people who thought the printing press was not important, especially those who couldn’t read at the time.
Or how about the computer and it’s importance to business and the world? Can you believe that the IBM Chairman Thomas Watson stated in 1943, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” I think he missed his estimation by several million on this one.
If you believe online collaboration is not important, make sure it’s not simply because you don’t know how to take advantage of what it has to offer.