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Three ways to move from CIO to 'chief collaboration officer'

Jason Fox | March 17, 2014
Collaboration simply means working with others to achieve or produce something. But it has become a bit of a buzzword. Senior executives tout notions of embracing collaboration by reducing functional silos... but the reality is: It's hard work.

But sometimes it's not simply a case of removing the friction at work, redesigning processes or investing in frictionless communication platforms. Sometimes you need to create space outside of the usual system to really ramp up collaboration.

If in doubt, hack it up

Software companies are quite popular for arranging 'hackathons' to enable intense collaboration. And this is something that's catching on in more traditional organisations.

Hackathons (or 'hack days', 'productivity blitz' or whatever you want to call it) are usually conducted with diverse teams and run over a very tight period of time — usually in the order of 24 to 72 hours. Here, nearly all barriers to collaboration are removed, and people are free to solve challenges collaboratively.

Hackathons require a clear challenge with expert facilitation and support to pull off effectively. They require good scheduling well in advance, and are best served with a unique shared space to work in. Things get messy — think: pizza and post-it notes. But the volume of collaborative work achieved in three days in a hackathon of intense, frictionless collaborative work could easily outweigh that of a 30 to 90 day period of work under normal conditions.

It's all about changing the game to make work work better.


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