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The Collaboration Framework’s Organizational Enablers: Process and Governance (2 of 3)

May 18, 2010

This is the second of a series of posts in which I describe the Collaboration Framework’s organizational enablers – (1) people and culture, (2) process and governance, and (3) technology – required to foster and sustain the value of collaboration.

There is a growing number of consulting companies and would-be consultants offering various new age approaches and fancy models for process and governance under the guise of Enterprise 2.0. Don’t be confused or distracted by them! Focus on aligning your process and governance with your collaboration vision and strategy, and you will have a much greater chance for success.

Once again, I will excerpt much from the “Making Collaboration a Reality: Insights from the Collaboration Consortium, Year One” report because frankly, I couldn’t have written the following any better:

When thinking about collaboration strategies and how to implement them, organizations must consider the process, business models, and governance attributes that should be in place to ensure a scalable and successful service offering.


As with all components of the Collaboration Framework, a limited number of these process and governance capabilities may be required in the investigative stage of a collaboration strategy. However, as organizations evolve toward the performance and transformational stages, a complete set of capabilities is required to ensure success.

Business Planning Methodology

While all organizations have formal business planning processes that identify priorities and allocate resources, a key question to address when developing the Collaboration Framework for an organization is whether collaboration capabilities are leveraged in the course of the planning processes. If the answer is no, the company is in the investigative phase and there is an opportunity to initiate a dialogue on the value that collaboration can generate and its relevance to business process performance.

The initial impetus for introducing collaboration in the business planning process varies. For one Consortium member, a group of line executives took the initiative of driving value from collaboration, and their successes were rolled out company-wide by the top leadership team of the company. For another member, the CEO played a key role in placing collaboration at the heart of the company’s new organizational model.

Independent of the starting point, making collaboration an integral input in the business planning process is part of the evolution from the investigative to the transformation phase. In the performance phase, collaboration is included in the planning process for parts of the organization; for organizations that are in or moving toward the transformational phase, collaboration becomes a component in the organization-wide planning process.

Leveraging collaboration as part of the planning process leads to formulating a collaboration strategy and a collaboration framework to operationalize it. These two ingredients are critical for any organization seeking to take full advantage of collaboration capabilities and cross the collaboration chasm.

Organizational Model

When a business planning methodology centered around collaboration is combined with an organizational model that fosters and supports collaboration, an organization is better able to maximize the business value that can be obtained. As collaboration becomes more pervasive throughout an enterprise, successful companies utilize a cross-functional body or other coordinating mechanisms to evolve their collaboration strategy across the company. The implementation and accountability of initiatives, though, should remain with business stakeholders. Two examples come to mind that demonstrate how collaboration has been embedded within an organizational model and its planning functions.

  • Cisco. Over the past eight years, Cisco has evolved from a command-and-control leadership model to a cross-functional collaborative model that uses councils, boards, and working groups for executive decision making, cross-functional alignment, and oversight of business initiatives. This collaborative model is based on three pillars: (1) an organizational structure of councils and boards; (2) an approach to drive business model decisions through vision, strategy, and execution (VSE); and (3) defined market adjacencies to grow new markets and solutions. The cross-functional collaboration model includes an approach, known as C-Change, to document the process and best practices from lessons learned while evolving to this new leadership model. C-Change greatly increases the speed with which cross-functional groups can form, accomplish goals, and then disband when their mission is complete. It provides an effective approach for making decisions, coordinating resources, and tracking accountability. Cisco credits this new model with enabling the company to take on 28 business priorities during the 2009 fiscal year, compared with only two priorities just two years earlier.
  • Wipro. Wipro has a matrixed organization, with industry verticals and lines of service as go-to-market axes. The industry verticals are market–facing, and the service lines provide the functional competencies enabling the verticals. Both organizational axes are critical to meet the demands of customers and their businesses. Collaboration strategies are extensively used to enable Wipro’s matrixed model. Collaboration initiatives are central to how Wipro does business, and they are linked to overall business goals. Collaboration initiatives and business processes are not parallel activities; instead, collaboration initiatives allow Wipro to drive business efficiencies in serving customers. As a result, collaboration is embedded in Wipro’s corporate culture and in its day-to-day work.

Establishing the right organizational model for collaboration requires an executive sponsor, who will champion collaboration among the executive team to support the proposed strategy. Several Consortium members had at least one executive sponsor, frequently a CXO level executive, who championed the collaboration efforts. Often the champion is from IT. However, Consortium members found it most effective when the executive sponsor was from a business function or partnered with IT.

Process Improvement

To ensure success, Consortium members concluded that dedicated resources are required to leverage collaboration in business processes, projects, and programs. For example, members recommend addressing the following two questions: (1) Has the organization made internal services available, such as planning and consulting resources, to provide strategic and tactical assistance to departments and executives? and (2) Is there a client engagement methodology, consulting resources, and a change management methodology to drive business value? The ability to achieve greater business value or to evolve collaboration across an organization is very limited without the resources to assist internal departments or functions. The following examples demonstrate the role played by support resources.

  • Renault. Renault’s transition to global engineering centers spurred the need to use Web 2.0 and new media tools to enable collaboration between employees located in engineering centers and plants around the world. eRoom (an online document-sharing solution) and eConf (a virtual meeting solution) are two key collaboration tools, first launched in 2003–2004, to address this need for globalizing operations. Part of Renault’s collaboration methodology includes an approach to encourage collaboration practices—such as how to manage documents, how to establish communities of practice, and how to share information. The support also includes a consultative group that helps potential users analyze how they currently work together and recommends new work practices enabled by collaboration through eRoom and eConf to improve team effectiveness. With these governance components, the IS team is well positioned to jointly work with business management to formulate an approach to collaboration. While a department’s interest in collaboration often initially starts with a request for eRoom, the consultative group ensures that users get the maximum benefits of collaboration and that the tools are tailored to their business needs.
  • Canada School of Public Service (CSPS). The Centre of Expertise in Communities of Practice (CECP) uses a cost-recovery model to provide the consulting services required to ensure successful community implementations. The consulting services cover the Community of Practice (CoP) Process Model, project management, tools, and approaches. The core components of the CoP Process Model define how to create a community, grow the community, and then expand it to ensure that it has the greatest opportunity to succeed. The CECP team also developed a comprehensive evaluation strategy with standard and customized packages to help government organizations assess the value of their communities and identify areas for improvement. Based on the CECP team’s experience, it could take as little as four weeks to get a virtual community up and running but as long as 12–18 months to build a community that will add value to the business. The results achieved by the CECP team earned them a prestigious gold medal at the 2009 GTEC Distinction Awards for a national effort in the human dimension category. (GTEC is Canada’s Government Technology Event, which brings together public and private sector experts to collaborate on serving citizens better through innovation and technology.)

In the investigative phase, an organization does not need to dedicate resources to collaboration efforts; in fact, the required business process redesign skill set might not even be internally available. Consortium members used a combination of dedicated internal resources and specialized external consultants on early efforts. Those efforts provided a learning ground in which to train internal resources to lead future e#orts and scale collaboration organizationwide. The ideal resource team in the transformational stage is a virtual, 24/7 collaboration planning and services resource model, sta#ed with internal and external experts to ensure the maximum level of business impact for the organization.


The successful deployment of collaboration strategies requires communication support and services, such as communication planning, creating appropriate awareness and training content, and gathering and responding to feedback. Often this support requires both tactical and strategic elements and requires the use of tools to capture information, such as that from web analytics and surveys.

The communication activities must address how to increase awareness and adoption of the collaboration strategy. Given the social networking aspect of collaboration, these support services include community components to take advantage of early adopters and provide a means to reach a broader audience and increase relevancy.

Consortium members have identified five key questions to address to ensure that an organization has the right communications capabilities in place:

  1. Is there a well-defined and published communications strategy and plan, with the necessary services and processes to support that plan?
  2. What strategic and tactical communication components are required?
  3. Is the organization leveraging early adopters and communities of interest as part of the communication strategy?
  4. Are the communication tools most appropriate to deliver the messages, to collect feedback, and to evaluate whether metrics are e#ectively leveraged?
  5. How will internal best practices and success stories be captured and shared?

In member companies such as Cisco and Novartis, the collaboration efforts are actually led out of the Corporate Communications functions in partnership with IT, which helps to ensure that the right communication support capabilities are in place. For example, within Cisco, a Communication Center of Excellence (CCOE) was created several years ago to bring together employees who have a common interest in and commitment to accelerating success in communications and collaboration for the company. The CCOE is described as a town hall for connecting, communicating, collaborating, and learning about how best to employ Web 2.0 technologies, coupled with process and culture, to drive productivity, growth, and innovation at Cisco.

Funding and Resource Models

At the onset of collaboration efforts, project teams very frequently face the challenge of developing the business case and creating an appropriate funding model. These teams, often from IT, are usually required to develop a formal business case, with a documented return on investment, as part of securing required resources to deploy a new technology or enable a new service offering.

However, in today’s world of Web 2.0 technologies, the process of getting started is slightly easier, as experimentation can begin prior to requiring a formal business case. Members of the Consortium generally agree that experimentation with new technology is the right approach to gather some early feedback through test-and-learn activities. Then, from these efforts, the greatest business opportunities and challenges can be identified, and a formal business case with recommended funding and resource models can be proposed to scale the effort across the organization.

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS). Over the last several years, the TBS within the Government of Canada (GC) has investigated how to apply Web 2.0 capabilities within a government context to take advantage of the business value that can be realized. One such experiment was a GC-wide wiki in early 2008, now known as GCPEDIA. From a funding and resource perspective, the early experimentation was limited to a smaller group of participants, requiring very little investment to quickly get an environment up and running. Even when the scope was initially expanded to invite broader government communities to participate, GCPEDIA did not require a large formal organization to operate it. It was deployed as an open environment with a limited number of rules, in which communities can form, develop, and share open knowledge. This enabled the environment to scale quickly in the early phases. As further expansion was planned, several operational items were considered. In particular, TBS developed options for a GC-wide hosted wiki/blog service, with a business model that included funding options for participating organizations. There is now work in progress with other levels of government in Canada and abroad to see how GCPEDIA can be leveraged.

Canada School of Public Service (CSPS). Another funding example from the Government of Canada is the Centre of Expertise in Communities of Practice (CECP), mentioned earlier. The CECP works on a cost-recovery basis to fund the technology platform and support services, using a subscription fee that is paid by individual departments or organizations wanting to create a community. Once an organization subscribes, it can create any number of subcommunities in the space. The subscription fee covers the resources required to provide and maintain the base service and allows the team to scale as new subcommunities are requested.

Consortium members have identified key questions to consider regarding funding, fixed versus operating requirements, development resources, and ongoing support resources:

  • Should the funding model be centralized or decentralized by function, or will a pay-peruse model be more appropriate?
  • How will funding need to increase to support scalability?
  • What permanent and temporary resource commitments will be required?
  • Is there a community model that can help support the e#ort?

Each of these questions should at least be considered. Each funding and resource situation may be unique, depending on the corporate-level priorities, the business value expected, and even the feedback from early adopters.

Policies and Guidelines

An organizational model for collaboration efforts should revisit existing policies and guidelines to ensure that the old rules are still appropriate in the new Web 2.0 world. For example, policies that pertain to employees’ behavior when they are using new technologies internally with other employees, and externally with customers, partners, and resellers, should be put in place. Encouraging the right collaborative behaviors is important and should be supported through performance reviews and reward systems—for example, appropriately sharing best practices and knowledge with others outside of formal teams.

Other policy examples that should be reviewed include confidentiality policies, particularly for intellectual property, and codes of ethics or conduct to guide public collaboration. Employees must remember to differentiate between social interactions and business interactions. Often, policies are required to help establish the boundaries.

Overall, an organization should determine what policies and guidelines must be in place or considered. One option to address areas of uncertainty is through the creation of a social networking guide, which combines policies and guidelines impacted by social networking into one easy-to-reference document. An example of an Internet Postings Policy created by Cisco for its employees is available at

Training and Adoption

The final area of process and governance to be addressed involves the training and effective adoption of new collaboration technologies and services. !is can include the use of local champions to become role models for desired behaviors, or it can include the use of incentives and reward systems to motivate employees toward a desired outcome. When considering training and adoption, it is also important to address how best practices are shared across an organization.

Training can be as formal or informal as an organization cares to invest, but should utilize many mediums to provide employees with choices based on their learning preferences. Each organization needs to assess what support services will be required for training, facilitation, and consulting, and whether these services should be available in-house or from an external partner. The following examples demonstrate how organizations are addressing training requirements with current and future employees.

  • Canada School of Public Service (CSPS). The CECP was cited earlier for its approach to process improvement and well-defined funding model. An additional objective of CSPS is to promote and implement social learning approaches within the Public Service of Canada. The school is moving to a blended environment that includes conferences and events, e-learning, webcasts, and collaborative tools to complement the classroom courses already offered to public servants. The Communities of Practice (CoP) program was added as an opportunity for employees to network, collaborate, learn from others, and share their knowledge. The CoP team offers a number of training and support services for new community owners and participants. The presentation and training services include technical training, online CoP facilitation, presentations on concepts and theories, and training on other related collaboration tools. Various tool and support services are also offered for CoP implementation projects.
  • Wipro. Wipro is recognized for its partnerships with higher education to prepare graduates for future employment and to enable new employees to continue to grow academically. One example is Magnum Opus, which is a mega initiative to train college students in the third year of their engineering degrees using real-life projects with hands-on programming and industry experience. The program involves the creation of a big-vision theme to tackle a problem or opportunity, and a Wipro Senior Architect is assigned to define an architecture. Work is divided into manageable projects in each phase of implementation, and students are assigned to a project with a Wipro mentor. The teams are enabled with a combination of technology and processes to enable distributed work. Students learn collaboration practices, tools, and behaviors as part of a real project. Overall, they complete the project and semester with a better understanding of how to apply their academic knowledge and their new collaboration skills in a real business environment.

Adoption efforts should question whether project champions have been identified and supported with the right resources. In the early stages of collaboration, local champions will emerge as a result of their successful experimentation. In later stages, key leaders will emerge who are recognized by peers for their e#orts, and they will help establish a new direction. These leaders are role models for others in the organization and will in’uence their adoption of new behaviors and technologies.

Reward systems are another component that will optimize any adoption effort if employee contributions to a collaborative environment can be more formally recognized. An organization’s reward and incentive systems should be designed to promote and support the vision for a collaborative enterprise at the executive, manager, and individual contributor levels. Early adopters and their successes and best practices should be captured and recognized through existing organizational communications vehicles, such as published success stories. In the performance phase of collaboration, adoptions of an organization’s collaboration efforts are required elements of an employee performance review cycle, and they are heavily weighted in compensation calculations. In the transformational phase, promotions and bonuses, especially at senior levels, should heavily favor those who leverage collaboration most strategically and effectively.

The final component to ensure effective adoption and training is providing formal mechanisms or forums to ensure that best practices are captured and shared within and across business processes. This can be accomplished through periodic seminars, knowledge-sharing sites (wikis, blogs), and forums that are widely adopted. This practice should be fully embedded in the corporate culture and also rewarded as part of the performance measurement system. Many of the Consortium member organizations have such mechanisms in place to allow employees to share their experiences.


The process and governance components of the Collaboration Framework cover the business, organizational, and process models necessary to ensure the successful implementation of your collaboration strategies. These models should consider the planning, organization, process improvement, communication, funding, policy, and training support functions. All functions are not required from the onset of the evolution curve; however, they all need to be in place to enable transition to later phases.


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