Secrets to My Collaboration Success: Google, Astrazeneca and Royal College of Physicians Give the Inside Scoop

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Secrets to My Collaboration Success: Google, Astrazeneca and Royal College of Physicians Give the Inside Scoop

You’re in London. The big meeting with Tokyo begins in ten minutes.

You can’t figure out why the conference room camera won’t synch with your web conferencing software.

We’ve all been there at least once. So no wonder web collaboration has such a shoddy rep.

Despite all the advances in technology and the availability of many new tools, the web collaboration experience is still rife with frustration and wasted time. Is the problem technical? Human? Can it be fixed?

At AV Huddle, a recent symposium we hosted with Poly, collaboration solution leaders–including AstraZeneca, Google and the Royal College of Physicians–tried to get to the source of web conferencing’s bad rap and how it might be reversed.

What the symposium revealed is that while conferencing technology is undoubtedly getting sleeker and easier to use, there are a host of social and organizational factors that hinder adoption and proper use.

In other words, if a collaboration tool requires people to act unnaturally, it’s likely to fail. The goal is to mimic the face-to-face experience. The more it’s able to do that, the more likely that tool will succeed.

Varying Approaches to Training and Practice

AV Huddle attendees indicated their organizations take a range of approaches to getting workers up to speed on new technologies–everything from selective formal training to self-service to no training at all.

But there’s one thing they all agree on: digital collaboration needs to feel natural. People already have enough to worry about in terms of knowing, presenting or capturing subject matter. The last thing they need is a wrestling match with new technology.

Rather than roll out organization-wide training programs, the Royal College of Physicians has found it to be more effective to train senior staff. These “influencers” must then pass along their knowledge to the rest of the organization in more informal ways.

Google takes it a step further, foregoing formal tech training in favor of amassing institutional and cultural knowledge that creates a ubiquitous experience.

“We strive to make the user-experience the same wherever you are,” said Google’s Gary Keene. “We deliberately don’t include quick start guides and other room literature, but rather rely on experienced users showing new users how to use the equipment.”

AstraZeneca has shifted from heavy documentation and ‘how-to’ videos to a QI-based approach of teaching staff how to think for themselves.

We’ve made a huge investment over the last four years in self-service,” said AstraZeneca’s Stuart Johnston. “We emphasize ‘you can’t break it’ and giving people the confidence to navigate the trickier situations such as dealing with a customer or supplier outside the organization.”

How else are industry leaders overcoming web collaboration frustration? Check back next week for part 2.

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