The Collaborative Organization

A presentation for the nomensa Collaborate 21 Conference

In my presentation to nomensa’s 2021 Collaboration Virtual Confrerence in July, 2021 (a live narrative of this whitepaper I authored earlier in 2021) I shine a spotlight on the global pandemic’s impact on our ability to work together. Still very much in the maelstrom of the pandemic (recall that in July 2021, the UK had about 67% vaccinated, the US about 55%, and globally about 52%), the virtual conference on collaboration was especially timely.

The pandemic rapidly and violently dismantled our everyday working relationships, replacing (for a large portion of the working population) the familiar in-person arrangement with remote-only.*

By July, 2021, many organizations were turning their attention to recovery, considering a broad spectrum of strategies: returning workers to in-person settings, maintaining a “remote-only” policy, or embracing a “hybrid” approach.

In this presentation I offer a framework for working together that places “collaboration” within a range of working relationships. Breaking down collaboration to its fundamentals offers a broader range of technologies, policies and training solutions than if we think of it monolithically.

As it turns out, in the neo-pandemic world of 2023, our leaders’ questions about working together across time and space are not any simpler to answer than they were in the height of the pandemic. As a result, this presentation continues to resonate: What does it mean to collaborate? What combination of policies, incentives and technologies will enable our teams to collaborate regardless of where they sit? How do we address issues of privilege, equity, and inclusion regardless of our modes of working together?

By looking at collaboration through this more nuanced lens, leaders can begin to address many of the pressing questions they have about working together in the contemporary era.

*(Notably, essential workers, required on the front lines or in critical infrastructure, did not have the privilege of participating in this aspect of the global experiment. They had much bigger concerns to contend with.)

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