Posted by: Adam Deane | 09/06/2010

BPM: Collaboration Hurdles

Every time we stay at a hotel, we write a review on TripAdvisor
Every time we see a blog, we add our comment
We add content to Wikipedia, discuss on LinkedIn, twit on Twitter and post on blogs.
So why do we care so little about our corporate collaboration? The backbone of our organisation. We even get paid to do it – and we still don’t do it.
Wikis, forums, department portals… empty. Why?

Lately, there is a lot of talk about the advantages of collaboration.
Ahhh, Yeh…. Talking about collaboration is like talking about eradicating poverty. Great idea, everyone is for it, but actually doing it is much harder.
This post is about some of the hurdles implementing corporate collaboration.

The Newbie Syndrome

Remember when you just joined your company. Did you try to speak your mind? Of course not. Why? Survival instincts.
Keeping quiet and blend in. If you speak up, you might be stepping on someone’s toes, internal politics. Even if you say something right, you’re looked at as a show-off. Newbies in meetings also tend to agree with everything said before them.
Two solutions for this obstacle: If you want to hear newbies opinions – Let them talk first in meetings. Put a timeframe on “newbieness” – Tell them that in your company new employees are considered newbie for the first 3 months. After that the are considered standard employees.

Big Brother

Big Brother Syndrome

The best way to stop corporate collaboration is by commenting on an employee’s opinion or conduct.
“Other employees might find your comment offensive”. “The CEO has access to the portal”. Yeh… Right. Now I’m going to write something on the portal that may lose me my job… Ah, I think not…

BPM red-tape


All employees are required to login to the system before submitting any comments or remarks.
All employees are required to add reference numbers.
All employees are required to add their comments before 11:00
All employees are required to jump through hoops to contribute and collaborate. So why bother?

bpm award

My Effort – My Credit

People don’t like sharing credit for things they’ve created. If I’ve invested time, effort and thought into something successful, why share the glory?
If I’ve added content to a wiki, why would I want someone to add a line of content and get the same recognition?
Wikis tend to get dominated by the handful of people who love them, and everyone else ignores them. Blogs are too self-centered. Most of the posts on forums are done by one or two gurus.


What’s in it for me

The common response of most employees when asked to join in and collaborate.
“Why?, What’s in it for me”.

OK, so what’s my point in this post?
Technology will not necessarily result in better collaboration.
Collaboration is about people, not technology
We can embrace corporate collaboration tools and invent Social BPM systems, but in the end in comes down to the ability of the organisation to get people to collaborate.


  1. Hey Adam!
    Nicely done! – I like the clever flow of how you make your points. And I very much agree with your recommendation.

    Here’s my take on the topic (quick read):
    Social collaboration in the enterprise:The heart–and goal–of Community is “collaborating people”, not collaboration tools.


  2. Interesting post!

    You really got a point there.

  3. Great post as always.

    People use social networks for personal interest. To get the to share in the same collaborative way when it is “work” is much harder. I think social BPM is a novel idea but to get meaningful contributions will require some WIFM (What’s In it For Me) and I’m not sure where that is going to come from.

  4. The WIIFM comes from the recognition of contribution in some cases: enterprise social contributions are almost never done anonymously, and the history logging in wikis will show exactly who contributed what so that management and peers can get an idea of what any person has contributed.

    It can also come from just making someone’s job easier: if you’re responsible for supporting people, for example, being able to use social tools (update a wiki, use IM to help them rather than a desk visit) to do that can make it easier to do your job and have less bureaucracy involved.

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