The Tool-Excuse

Over the past years I’ve been thinking a lot about one single question (although in many shapes): How can we work together more efficiently when it comes to distant collaboration?

Asking the question now, I believe that the answer cannot be a technical one alone. Maybe not at all. Looking at myriads of project management tools and collaborative suites out there, I firmly believe that efficiently and successfully developing a collaborative project or product with a dispersed team – or any other initiative for that matter – is not about having or lacking the right tools to make it happen, but deeply rooted in the actual team or community that puts it to life. Way more than it is based on the means you use to foster that collaboration. Here’s the thing:[[MORE]]

Efficient collaboration is done by efficient teams. Period.

Diverse and skilled ones, at best. Teaming up with others that share your vision, your motivation and your focus is a challenge in it self — and you might argue that its the toughest one. But once you have that in place, everything else is just a question of how not whether you work together. Over the past years I’ve come to believe to believe that the tech and the tools we all use (or lack) to work together way too often get in front of the resource that is so much more important: just a good team. If you really want to team up with your colleagues to work on a project, you’ll just do it. Even if you use email and wikis and sms for it. You’ll get things done.

On the other hand, if the team is just not right, no tool on earth will fix it. Yet i’ve heard many times that ‘the right tool is missing’, or just the proper way of sharing a story, a blueprint or some code. And don’t get me wrong: I do believe that there is way more potential to the platforms we use today, especially when it comes to making them adoptable to different contexts and environments, to explore new ways of storytelling, education, transparency. But let’s make sure these platforms don’t get in the way of understanding and revisiting the team that uses it – and maybe just accepting the fact that it might just lack focus, incentives, time, or motivation.

Let’s focus on the part that is to be connected.

So the challenge here lies in the social bit: Who should you team up and where do you find the right people? What is a team in the first place – and how is it different from a community? How do you keep a team together and focused on getting things done, while staying open and flexible? (here’s a good take on that. tl;dr: no dickheads) And how do we make these resources and people as accessible and approachable as possible?

I believe these questions are far more important than just discussing feature sets or tech-racks. It’s commonplace I suppose – but instead of merely coming up with yet another tool to connect, we’ll have to focus on the part that is to be connected, let’s try to understand why, how, and what for we work with others – and how we can make this more likely to happen.

Also on medium.