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Collaboration Frameworks 2011 - On Creating a Global Workspace: Part Two

Introduction to Ideas in a Global Work Space.

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As all of you who work on global and cross-functional process know, collaboration is work!

Last week we shared a framework with you (collaboration framework), which some readers stated was not really a framework-agreed. ‘Towards a Framework’ might have been a better phrase (see Figure 1). To continue this dialog I have opened a LinkedIn group called Global Work Space. You are most welcome to join and share—collaborate—your ideas there.

And as many work/skills researchers and academics will tell you, it is one thing to have an open attitude, and think you are a collaborative ‘type.’ It is quite another thing to truly model—analyze what you are doing—and create a framework, and write a useful treatise on the subject that people can use and implement in their endeavors. (Thus this series, which I hope you will all collaborate on). With that in mind, the Global Work Space group was created. I have been inviting people from all sorts of professions, from architecture, to marketing, technology, academics, to product and supply chain and nonprofits—all who rely on building high performance collaborative teams to get something important done—whether raising funds for their charity or creating the next Mars space craft. If this is a topic of interest to you, please join.

Now to today’s article:

Most of us are aware that with globalizing and outsourcing, companies have many dynamic and complex relationships with their trading partners. In some business models collaboration is the de facto standard modus operandi. The arts and construction are examples.

Witnessing the current rebirth of the US auto industry illustrates how dynamic and urgent the need for effective collaboration can be. Looking at the evaluation, selection and collaborative design processes, as these companies design and reinvent the new hybrid autos, one sees a complex set of partners and issues involved. An example here is selecting battery partners—which includes not only technology, design, and price, but the government sponsorship to assure capacity, partnering and finance/funding of advanced development of components, etc. And of course, all this has to be done while you are still trying to build and deliver 10 million autos. That’s literally like changing the tires while the car is going 60 MPH!

New Product Introductions (NPIs), rebranding, opening in new markets, new projects or make-overs are all intensive projects that require high performance collaboration amongst the diverse team of players. Creativity and financial performance must co-exist. Yet for market success or completion of work or fulfillment of charter, creating a collaborative climate must be foremost.

In the design world—such as product design, architects, etc.—the goal is fusing multicultural ideas to create new work spaces, new products, and new communities that grow opportunity and knowledge is the goal. Without the fostering of ongoing ideas, their communities wither.

Thomas Kvan
Nancy Yen-wen Cheng

I recently read Design Collaboration Strategies by Nancy Yen-wen Cheng of the University of Oregon and Thomas Kvan at the University of Hong Kong. They noted a phenomena in the design world that I would call the ‘virtual studio’ (vs. on premise architects, or physical office/design studios), and the use of various technologies to enable collaboration across the creative space:

Recent efforts have engaged available media and channels, such as e-mail, web pages, listservs; with shared whiteboard, application sharing and desktop video-conferencing used for the remote partnerships. These studio-based activities have been complemented by controlled laboratory-based experiments in which subjects have used whiteboards, text chat or voice, sometimes supplemented by videocommunication. The range of projects used in these various settings has explored a variety of design opportunities and collaborative strategies.”

In the nonprofit world, organizations like ONE ( have thrived by creating networks of community that can respond to events, collaborate and create campaigns specific to social causes and reach sub communities of interest. (!/ONECampaign) Again, the use of technology—web, social media, video, telephone campaigns, as well as traditional in person events, rallies, etc.—are all fused together to involve people in working for social good. 

Collaboration is the foundation

In my mind, what emerges from these examples, from new product design at GM, to architecture, to ONE's network, is that the collaboration is supported by the elements of:

  • Human systems that absorb—incorporate organically new members, new ideas and new idea threads that support the ‘charter’ or purpose of the group. But the group itself changes and evolves due to these encounters.
  • Policy—structure and boundaries—such a relevancy in a social network, or standards in communication. These may be informal accepted norms of behavior in the team or formalized guidelines and policies, and may be supported/reinforced by the collaboration tools, environment and technology.
  • Applications in the cloud—the global work space needs a space, the cosmic water cooler, where we all congregate to talk and can share ideas, concepts, and designs. The Applications enables the creation of the work product such as design drawings, plans, fund drives, etc.
  • Devices and Collaboration Tools/Environments—ranging from Telepresence room systems where we can see and almost touch one another, like we are in the same room, to mobile devices allowing us to participate wherever we are. The dynamics and virtualizations are so much fun, as you can experience in games, etc. But some purposes are quite serious, such as remote medical care, or rescue operations. (And having had one of the worst winters in a while, many of us are extremely happy to have virtual meeting tools!)

Within this table, we make an attempt to insert exerpts from the research on what people see as the goals or components that need to be addressed in order to create a sucessful collaboration work space.

PS. I interpret the word space to be not just a physical idea, but one of the mind, room to grow.

Towards a Collaboration Framework


Goal                                                    Elements                                                        Resources

Human Systems

Developing methods to create high performance and creativity.

Learning Encounters
Group Mashups-brainstorming

Multi-disciplinary design charrettes

Team building, and supporting mutual goal and objectives

Project Blogs or Wiki’s

Open Space Meetings

Open Source Software Teams

Strategic Horizons

Various Open Space consultants


National Charrette Institute

Open Source Open World

Business Process Management

BPM helps enable more structured types of colla­bo­ra­tion (as opposed to say brainstorming).

Move from paper-based documents to automation.

BPM helps ensure process integrity, complete communications, and successful completion of work.


BPM software for modeling

Automating BP within applications- BP Engines and Work Flow Management

Event Management and alerting platforms

Business Condition / Threat Monitoring

BEA Systems
SAP NetWeaver

Enterprise App with their built in workflow managers help enable collaboration

Microsoft: BizTalk, Visual Studio and Visio, for example

BPM solutions


Joint Performance Goals should drive policy.

Compliance to ease automating business process and meet trade regulations and laws.

Policies on conduct help assure the sanctity, mutual respect, and creative spirit of the team and their work.

Supplier Management/ Supplier Compliance

Governance, Risk, Compliance, Traceability

Track and Trace

Asset Tracking


Secure work space and applications

Self-policing tools in Wiki’s and other forums

Compliance Networks

EDI and transaction platforms

Management Dynamics
ChainLink Research
SAP and Oracle GRC
Trace Express


Architecting the structure of relationships, whether in person or on the web.

Role-based structure to manage the relationships.

Social Networks

This can be applications specific, or tools.
Private Clouds
Public Clouds

Collaborative Business Applications and Artifacts

Business Applications enabling specific collaborative relationships and activities.


Document Management and sharing
Product Design
Supply Chain
Data Synchronization
Buyer/Supplier Collaboration
The Internet of Things?

Microsoft SharePoint
Oracle Cloud Office
Cadence Design Systems
Dassault Systemes
Vecco International

Collaborative Enabling Technology

Real-time communication— voice, video, annotation, and document sharing on the web.

Virtual Meeting Management
Virtual Meeting Services

HP Halo
iDeep TeleOffice

and  Knowledge Management

Enhance knowledge and assure culture and language context and translation.

Knowledge capture

Librarian/Gatekeeper functions to maintain KB quality and organization

KB search and knowledge dissemination

Various KM solutions

Devices and Platforms

Make it mobile! Anywhere, anytime participation.

Smart phones, pads, wireless networks, mobile apps

Apple, Google, Verizon, AT&T, and thousands of app vendors

Figure 1

Whether a global enterprise, a SOHO, small consultancy, or nonprofit, organizations have challenges communicating across the web, across the world and on premise. From Open Space, to Mashups, to LinkedIn, Twitter, networks, Virtual Meeting technology people are exploring ways to collaborate and build creative high performance dynamic work teams and communities with meaning for them.


LinkedIn Group: Global Work Space

Cheng and Kvan report: Design Collaboration Strategies

ChainLink report: Single Version of the Truth

See also our Collaboration series.

To view other articles from this issue of the brief, click here.



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