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Collaboration today: not in context, not In Situ

 What is meant by collaboration in context in the prior post?  Why is it important?  Let's look first at what is a typical situation today: 

Day to day business activities occur across a myriad of systems and communication channels, some of those allow for collaboration among a subset of those executingon those business activities, however they still result in isolation, friction and dispersion… there is a lack of visibility for why decisions were made, what were the discussions that led to an specific outcome, what was the context of it all. Let's illustrate the problems this generates with an example: 


Using a simple scenario: Recruiting - Hiring - Onboarding a new employee. For the purposes of this post let's assume we can break it into the following phases - steps: 


  1. Defining the characteristics of the ideal candidate - experience, education, location, industry expertise, etc. 

  2. Identifying potential candidates, evaluating these candidates in phases, e.g. screening by the talent acquisition team, initial conversation with the hiring manager, interview loop

  3. Job Offer process:  prepare, present, negotiate, offer accepted 

  4. First day of work, assignment of onboarding buddy, 30-60-90 day ramp up plan, definition of key colleagues and stakeholders to meet and connect with, etc. 


Note: I am deliberately oversimplifying the scenario, I know this does not represent the complexity and variety you face in real life. 


Toda, in most enterprise size companies, this may go something as follows: 

  1. Point 1 will likely require collaboration across at least 2 different systems and multiple communication channels:

    1. Meetings, with notes captured in a way that they are not necessarily accessible by all stakeholders. 

    2. The notes will result into a document capturing the job description that will likely go through several revisions, if the participants are lucky those will occur online in some sort of document management system and the notes, different versions of the document will be available. 

    3. Then the job description will be cut & pasted into a “Talent Acquisition” system, which will be in turn used to generate internal and external job postings

  2. Point 2 will likely require collaboration across at least 2 different systems and multiple communication channels:

    1. Some candidates will apply directly, others will be sourced proactively by the talent acquisition team 

    2. In the best cases notes will be captured in the Talent Acquisition system, hiring managers rarely have access to those so some of these will be cut & pasted into email/Slack/Microsoft Teams/some other communication channel, hiring manager responses - comments will be made on the same communication channel and if the recruiters are extremely diligent they may make it back to the Talent Acquisition system. 

    3. Interviews will be programmed using some Calendaring System, in the best of cases notes by the interviewers will be captured in the Talent Acquisition system, but most likely some will be delivered verbally or via email/Slack/Microsoft Teams/some other communication channel, and may or may not be captured in context. 

  3. Point 3 will likely require collaboration across at least 2 different systems and multiple communication channels:

    1. In the best of cases the offer process will be handled in a Talent Management system, most likely distinct from the Talent Acquisition system mentioned above. For more companies though offers are managed in document management systems, the best of them based on a consistent set of templates that address the legal requirements of varied locations across the world. 

    2. The offer will be discussed across hiring manager, recruiter, compensation team and maybe others, each of these discussions will result in comments, modifications, input that will not be captured in context given that in most companies only a subset of the HR department has access to the Talent Management system. 

    3. The offer is finally ready to be presented and negotiated with the candidate, which results in yet more iterations, discussions, comments and modifications for which the context will be lost as well. 

    4. The final offer capturing the acceptance signature is stored and managed in a document management system. 

  4. Point 4 will likely require collaboration across at least 2 different systems and multiple communication channels:

    1. Hiring manager assigns someone to help the new employee through his/her onboarding process, an onboarding buddy.  All the context generated through all the prior steps will be invaluable to help the buddy guide this new employee, but alas it is unavailable to him/her. 

    2. Stakeholders and colleagues are sought out to participate in the 30-60-90 day plan, they also lack the context of everything that happened though the recruiting process. As the conversations / meetings with colleagues and stakeholders happen the comments, feedback, action items captured are not available to others unless the new employee proactively captures and shares them, not likely when someone is overwhelmed and trying to ramp up as fast as possible. 

    3. All of the above happens across Calendaring Systems, email/Slack/Microsoft Teams/some other communication channel, document management systems


Hopefully the example above is relatively familiar, and serves to make the point that, even in the best of cases, the typical business operation today still results in: 

  • Isolation:  lack of awareness - visibility on key information generated through the discussions and decisions made. 

  • Friction: it takes a lot of human effort for the data, context, knowledge to be captured. 

  • Dispersion: knowledge ends up being captured across a myriad of systems and channels, making it difficult to have it captured and leveraged to make subsequent operations better. 


The example scenario could have been a purchasing process, the creation of a sales pitch for a new customer, the planning and execution of a marketing campaign, a customer service issue dealt by subject matter experts across the company, or any other. The challenges and issues would have been very similar. 


In subsequent posts I will try to paint a picture of how this could be different, in the meantime I look forward to any comments on the thoughts expressed above. 


Filiberto Selvas 



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