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Structuring and Building Enterprise Collaboration Teams

Posted by on May 28, 2013

In developing enterprise collaboration teams it is common to find that some employees are more involved than others.  David Straus developed a concept called “rings of involvement” that applies to how involved relevant stakeholders are in collaboration.  That concept inspired the chart shown below and I talk about it in much greater depth in my book, The Collaborative Organization.

In looking at how emergent collaboration platforms and strategies get implemented in an organization, it’s helpful to think of several degrees of involvement, as shown in this figure:




This is the core team that essentially works on rolling things out.  Implementers are the day-to-day employees who do everything from selecting the vendors to developing adoption strategies.  The implementers are usually full-time employees devoted 100 percent to making sure the effort is successful.  They can be thought of as the construction workers responsible for building the organization’s emergent collaborative house.


This is an extension of the core team but is not as involved.  The extended team might work on a subset of the core project such as trying to figure who the evangelists within the organization might be or trying to predict certain risks.  Ultimately, the extended team isn’t a part of the big-picture strategic initiative but assists the implementers in making sure the big picture fits together.  The extended team is akin to a right-hand man.  The enablers effectively help make the implementers’ job possible.


The strategists work closely with the implementers and the extended team as they help develop the big picture.  The strategists can be thought of as the architects who design the blueprints for the implementers and the extended team.  Often there is crossover from the implementers and the extended team to the strategist role.  All these categories are permeable.  Strategists may not do the actual implementation.

Feedback Providers

These employees attend meetings and receive all the information they need to provide feedback and/or insight to assist in the project.  Feedback providers don’t actually have a hand in the roll-out or strategic decision making but contribute ideas, recommendations, and insights when and where needed.  These employees are great for bouncing ideas off of.

Update Seekers and Advisors

This group of employees just wants to know what’s going on with the initiative.  The group can be large or small, and typically it receives updates via alerts, e-mails, newsletters, or perhaps briefings.  Sometimes certain executives like to be the update seekers; they want to get enough information to know what’s going on and that things are going well.  Keep in mind that we are describing nothing more than involvement.  This doesn’t have anything to with seniority, the size of a group, or importance.  It’s possible that someone senior will be part of the implementing group and an entry-level employee will be part of the update seekers group.

How involved employees are can depend on all sorts of things, such as how much interest they have in the project and whether they have the time to contribute.   Also, these types of involvement groups are not mutually exclusive or permanent.  Employees can be a part of more than one group and can also move between groups; for example, an employee who may start getting updates and information about the project and then realize this is something he or she wants to be part of.  This isn’t meant to be a rigid bucket of employees; it’s merely an overview of how employees are typically involved.  It is something you can easily adapt and modify so that it fits your organization.  Try to identify where and your team fit in this framework.

  • AIMInternetMarketing

    Hey Jacob,

    It is very interesting the different roles that everyone has in teams. I have not heard of these specific roles before, but thinking about teams I have worked in they hold true. What do you think about one individual holding several roles? Do you think that is common?

    -Brad, AIM

    • Hi Brad,

      That can oftentimes be the case. This type of a framework doesn’t mean that someone can’t be in multiple roles or has to stay in one role forever. The dotted lines are meant to show that people can move around. In many organizations we work with there are employees who hold several roles. It depends on the company and the situation but I’ve certainly seen it work well in the past!

      • Having found different roles that individuals hold in the company how can a small company use these roles to encourage team members?

  • Anna Pham

    Love the graph Jacob, those roles are clear and useful for managers to oganize the team.Thanks for sharing.

  • Kevin Taylor

    How do we get the great things accomplished that no one alone can accomplish? Collaboration is easier said than done… To see more info please visit