What does it truly mean to collaborate in today’s collaborative world?

Following on from the guest blog last week I have been reflecting on the success that has been made of the work done in the collaboration space throughout the NIHR and in particular my part of the organisation the CRN.

Having taken a giant leap down the collaborative platform route the NIHR is now starting to understand what a networked organisation with a capable platform designed for collaboration underneath it can achieve.

Collaboration is the watchword across my organisation, it will save time, effort, money and all of these drive efficiencies for the delivery of clinical research and enable the organisation to increase its scope of research and improve quality. However the implementation of a new platform is not what has driven this change. It has been the catalyst, but just a small taster of what additional collaboration can be achieved to support clinical research in the UK is the driver. As a team of people we are a network. The very nature of our organisation encourages us to share: ways of working, content, even the load!

We accepted the challenge to implement what we tongue in cheek called the ‘Google-Verse’. The challenge was o do this quickly for core functionality and release some basic benefits, then, making some of the periphery elements available as the year went on adding to the benefits delivered. Many months into the challenge the platform is now delivering rewards to the organisation. It is slowly changing the culture of the organisation away from a focus on email as a collaboration tool, moving it to a place where the capability to share workload is the common practice.

In the case of our organisation we truly have an example of technology acting as the catalyst for behavioral change on mass. The availability of tools to collaborate has started to influence behaviors not just when the teams are using these tools, but to start to create a culture that looks for the place to collaborate first. We have been able to get a ‘virtual’ Business Intelligence Unit (vBIU) up and running over the same period of time, and we can put some of the acceptance of this down to the willingness of the organisation to collaborate on so much of the work we do.

There is also an element of the organisation coming together in the face of ‘adversity’. In this the adversity is the simple volume of work and pace that it is now looking to deliver on.

However, as we empower the network to consider the benefits they could get from the solutions we have deployed we also created a group of people who are so enthused by the benefits that technology can bring that there is a risk, it’s a nice risk for a CIO, but a risk that needs to be managed. This risk is that the enthused start to destroy the excitement through the eulogy they speak. What do I mean though? Its like when the Grey album first leaked out on the internet, the world loved it, no matter the genre of music they ‘lived’ in it seemed to touch everyone, but because everyone was talking about it the enthusiasm for it began to wane. As I re-visit it now its still a piece of musical genius!

However back to collaboration (and a step away from Jay-Z and the Fab Four).

Collaboration to create success, I believe this is driven by a good leader and built upon solid tools and foundations. I have written before about this programme of work not being led by technology but by the delivery of a networked workforce and the development of that structure, that, as we come to the point where we can close the implementation element of this programme down it is clear this is how we have achieved such significant business change through the implementation of technology.

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