I've been working on a few collaborative projects recently, and I've had to update my expectations to keep up with current “conditions“. In the “good old days“, if I sent an email to a dozen people, I'd expect a response from half of them within a day. Now it's more like 1 or 2, and these are for issues that clearly benefit them.So I have to nag the others, badger them by phone, threaten to have Microsoft cut off their MSDN subscriptions (just kidding! really! <g>) just to get a response.
Today's ZDNET newsletter had a pointer to this column about collaboration. Rafe Needleman talks about how his recent collaboration effort was “a disaster”. OK, he had some good analysis of why collaboration failed, but his concluding advice? “You never know what a team of smart people will come up with, so boxing them in is rarely a good idea. Let them build their own boxes instead”
Uh huh. So, before I begin my next collaboration effort, I need to get all the participants to build their own boxes? Which sounds like...a collaboration project in itself. I can just hear the thundering silence in response to that email.
OK, so maybe email isn't the way to go. I've tried blogging (not sure how that would be collaborative, really, but what the hell...) and Rafe also pointed out the “wiki”, which was created by Ward Cunningham (who is now with the patterns & practices team at Microsoft). Ward's working on his “next big thing”, and he's doing a kick-back evening session at our patterns & practices Summit in a couple of weeks. Damn, I hope he's got something good because I'm getting tired of sending these group emails out into the ether...