I spent this Easter with the kids, visiting parks and zoos going on Easter egg hunts, collecting eggs and having loads of fun.
As we ran between hedges trying to find eggs it got me thinking about the process of egg hunts and how comparable it was to the nightmare of trying to find answers on traditional, non-collaborative intranets.
Starting the hunt
When we started the hunts we were given a map of the area that outlined the egg zones we’d be hunting in – of course the actual egg locations weren’t on there, we’d have to find them ourselves.
As we hunted through vegetation there were plenty of misses and plenty of false egg sightings with high hopes raised and dashed but we kept going, confident that more chocolate was out there!
We made a lot of progress at first but as our eggs increased the time between findings became longer and longer. We asked the staff if there were any more, at times different people pointed out areas that could be the right ones only to find they’d been looted already or they’d just say ‘sorry I didn’t put them out’. We kept going hoping for more until eventually we decided we’d got enough, or had enough, and it was time to get eating.
Hunting for information
So how does that compare to how we find answers in business?
We start with the rough map, the companies Intranet. It brings us through divisions and departments in the hope that the information is stored hierarchically and we already know under what team we’d find it. Just like an egg hunt, eggs locations change for each hunt and so do teams and structures, making finding the right team a nightmare.
We look around the teams we think might be right only to find the answers aren’t there, so we try somewhere else with a trial and error approach and that doesn’t work out either.
We try asking other egg hunters, checking search for more the right answer. Loads of suggestions come back, we look into those and there’s similar things but not the egg were looking for.
So we approach the egg hunt staff, usually a mailbox for a team we don’t know. We wait a few days to hear back only to be told that they don’t know where the egg is but they know the egg layer.
We contact the egg layer who says they actually just planned the egg hunt laying. The actual layer is somewhere else and to ask the egg laying team if they know more.
We ask the egg laying team and finally find the layer and we find our egg – hooray! We scoff that egg straight away and don’t tell anyone else that that’s where the eggs are.
An answer found and a success for business? Yes, except for the amount of time and resources it’s taken to resolve it.
That’s why we collaborate
We collaborate to avoid these problems by making what we do less hierarchical, more open and discoverable.
Instead of organizing information into hierarchies, it’s organised into interests that we actually look for – Egg Hunt groups, not Zoo owners > Marketing teams > Activity teams > Egg Hunt setters > Egg hunt layers.
Instead of the information being buried, it’s made open so others can discover it through search and self service the answer, saving everyone time.
And when the answer can’t be found, it’s open to others with similar interests to support it. They can point us in the right direction and to the people that know the answer.
That all saves time, energy and effort and is a cornerstone to why collaboration is so important. It cuts out the hunting and gets us to the outcome, fast. That makes us more agile, more responsive and ultimately more secure as businesses of the future.