Experts in collaboration and productivity tools can be overly familiar with the tools and capabilities of the leading platforms. Working daily in the tools and listening to a continuous flow of updates we no longer see have the same view of these tools as an every day employee. Employee won’t just get the value of new tools and features. We need to help employees make sense of the potential of new tools. Their work is challenging enough. They don’t need to become experts in collaboration and productivity too. However, learning to create value together through new tools and practices is an important skill in the future digital economy.
I’ve worked in a wide range of organisations and teams. I am still consistently surprised what what features of collaboration and productivity tools are not obviously valuable to others. As I noted recently, the more you work the more you realise that diverse mindsets, company cultures and experiences mean that what is obvious to me is not obvious to others. While I might love the idea of creating a slide presentation with the active participation of a large community of change agents making comments and changing the document online, others prefer a process of deliberate iterations where they carefully control the developing product and who gets access. Experienced the person who sent an online link to a file downloads it and then emails it back to you with comments marked up in their own unique markup system rather than embedded markup features? When you meet the person who still doesn’t get the point, after a decade of modern cloud collaboration, you learn something about their style and approach to work.
These people are not being difficult and they are certainly not ignorant. They are using the tools as best suits their understanding and need for value. Making sense of the value of the tools we use in work is one of the key skills of the digital workplace. We have now got to the point where the rate of creation of new tools, features and practice is high. In this environment central experts won’t always be well placed to assess the best course of action. The best assessments aren’t always expert. They are practical and founded on the learning of real experience. We need every employee to participate in the process of assessing and fostering their individual and collective value.
We need to help employees to understand the value of new tools, new practices and new features. They are rightly busy on important work and expect support with adoption of new tools. We need to skill employees in new considerations in their work like the value for others of the tools and practices chosen, the value of iteration and the power of engagement. We have to help employees to develop curiosity, collaboration and experimentation. We can enable every employee to contribute directly to the value creation through their work and that of their peers. These capabilities are not just the skills required to adopt new digital work tools. These are the capabilities that will enable organisations to adjust to a new digital competitive environment and the expectations of consumers. The key change in any digital transformation is not the tools and the practices used. They key change is the employee capabilities, mindsets and focus on learning new paths to value.
Simon Terry helps organisations develop the capabilities of teams and individuals to enable more effective work and digital transformation.