Thinking about working together

Working together is great - most of the time. I really enjoy working with other people on tasks, instead of alone. Usually it's more fun, we get to results faster, the results are better, etc.

But how often do we give 'working together' some thought? What I see is lots of time is spent on who should we work with and for ("who are our stakeholders?"), when the work should be done and what the objective of the tasks is. But how often do we think about the 'how' of working and what this means for the 'what' and 'when'? Deliberately thinking about how we are working to get better results. I think we should do this more and recently a great report was published to help us all do this more.

Martin White recently wrote an interesting research paper about 'working together'. First I thought it was 'only' about meetings, live and virtual. And if the report was just about meetings, it would have been valuable enough. My experience is that we can do so much better at meetings, by giving it some thought and adhering to some basic principles. It's clear that Martin has been in many meetings. Based on his experiences he gives great advice on how to set up successful meetings, whether they are live or virtual.

But the report doesn't stop there. Martin clearly shows that meetings are all about working together and therefore about collaboration. To me this is an interesting insight that you don't hear a lot about. Meetings aren't perceived as collaborative. Years ago I learned about workshops. It gave me a whole new perspective on meetings. Workshops are about working together, about collaboration. But as I learned about workshops, I also learned how important it is to define it's objectives, plan a workshop, lead it, etc. This goes for good, collaborative meetings as well.
The report also addresses where collaboration technology is of use. Again, Martin asks if we are deliberately thinking about whether the tool to support meetings and collaboration is "fit for purpose"? Martin stresses the tools are about managing the information flows between meetings.
Martin's report ends where it all begins: practical advice on defining a collaboration strategy to ensure that we are working together in the right way to get to great outcomes.

I really enjoyed reading this (free!) report and highly recommend you read it as well. It's great to share inside (large) organizations. There's lots to learn and talk about with colleagues.

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