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who is white backgroundI’m oftentimes amazed at how many times I speak to people running future of work or collaboration initiatives for their company who are just not prepared to do so, and it’s not their fault.  Organizations are in a tough spot.  Many of them see and feel that the world of work is changing but they aren’t sure what to do about it.  So what inevitably happens is someone gets appointed to be in charge of these projects.  The people who get appointed could be anyone with an interest in the future of work.  While these types of employees are fantastic to have as community managers I wouldn’t hand over all of the responsibilities to them which include everything from vendor selection and strategy development to technology roadmaps and education and training.

In the last year or so I also started to notice an interesting trend.  When I first started helping companies with things related to the future of work I would be be collaborating with people who had job titles such as: CIO, VP of IT, Head of Marketing, Global Knowledge Manager, and others.  Now I see new roles emerging such as: VP of Transformation, Chief Collaboration Officer, Director of Future Solutions, and the like.  I still see my fair share of the other titles as well but new ones are creeping in.

It’s an interesting shift which to me signifies that the future of work is something that is a genuine and growing concern for many business leaders around the world and they are staffing up in order to make this work.  Not only that but they are creating relatively senior level roles around this.

The reality is that everything related to the future of work and collaboration is a process.  This process has a big impact and it’s not something that can just be assigned or handed over to anyone just for the sake of saying “we tried.”  You don’t want to try you want to succeed, and that requires a bit more commitment.

I’ve written about structuring and building enterprise collaboration teams in the past but the key thing here is that they are teams, not individuals.  We also have to remember that these jobs didn’t exist a few short years ago so there is no schooling or formal training in these areas and the level of experience is oftentimes not that great.  This means that there is a lot of learning that needs to happen and this learning should already be going on in all companies today (even though it’s not).

I have found that the most effective ways to help educate employees around the future of work and collaboration is as follows:

  • Provide budget to attend conferences and network with other practitioners.
  • Leverage resources such as books on the topics of collaboration and the future of work, I wrote a whole 304 page strategy guide on collaboration.
  • Look at many free resources online such as Slideshare presentations, Youtube videos, and blog posts.
  • Find consultants or people who you can bring in to help get you started and steer you in the right direction.
  • Invite employees from other companies to present and share their insights and ideas at your company.
  • Bring your senior team together to discuss what the future of work looks like at your company to give context to what this all means.
  • Experiment with the technologies that are out there, many of them have freemium versions you can take for a test drive.

I’m sure you can think of other things here but don’t just throw employees at the problem and expect a solution.  That’s what companies do who “try”; but we already agreed that it’s better succeed than to try, right?

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