Mass Collaboration : the Six Step Principles

Community is the people who collaborate. Social Business Software is the platform where they collaborate and Purpose is why they collaborate.

Mass Collaboration is defined by six defining characteristics: Participation, Collective, Transparency, Independence, Persisitence and Emergence.

Participation: You have to get your community to participate through contribution. “the user is the application.” You can’t hope to capture the wisdom of the crowd without the participation of the crowd.

Collective: In a collaborative community, participants “collect” voluntarily around a unifying purpose. Participants contribute to the whole rather than create content individually. This new act of contributing to the collective effort, which is constantly being created and expanded through a multitude of independent contributions, is what’s new with mass collaboration… you can’t get this with email.

Transparency: You have to be able to say that the community is transparent. All the users must see each others contributions. This way you get to see, use, reuse, augment, validate, critique, and rate what everyone adds to the collective. Without transparency, there can be no participant collaboration on content. If this is done properly, it gives the community the information needed to self-organise members contributions and create meaning out of what could easily become rubbish. Transparency leads to intelligent content, unified information, self-governance, self-correction and evolution. An increasing transparency leads to increasing organisational trust.

Independence: This delivers anytime, anyplace, any member collaboration… Any member of a community can contribute independent of another. They can do so wherever they are or whoever else may be posing content at that time; no co-ordination of collaboration or preexisting relationships are required. This is a big departure from email which dictates lists, or workflow, or document management structures.

Persistence: The members within your community’s contributions are captured and kept for others to view, share and augment. This again, is a departure from synchronous conversations where much of the information that is exchanged is either lost or only partially preserved. Your organisation needs to determine which information should persist, how long it should be held, and how to capture it in the least burdensome manner are significant design concerns for Social Business Software solutions.

Emergence: Social Business Software behavior cannot be modeled, designed, optimized or controlled. They emerge over time through interactions with community members. It allows the enterprise to come up with new ways of working or new solutions to seemingly intractable problems; it is the source of innovation as good ideas appear and rise in prominence through collaboration.

The fundamental cycle of collaboration:

Exerts from the Social Organisation by Anthony J. Bradley & Mark P. Mc Donald


So how do you ensure Social Business Software deployment success?

Organisational Success with Social Business Software deployment is actually a leadership and management challenge. It is not technology implementation. When this deployment is successfully implemented organisations will create greater value for all of its stakeholders.

A social organisation is one that applies mass collaboration to address significant business challenges and opportunities. Over time it becomes more agile, produces richer outcomes and can develop entirely new ways of operating that is only really achievable through mobilising the collective talent, energy, ideas and efforts of communities.

A Venn Diagram explains this best:


Communities are collections of individuals who come together to pursue common purpose

Purpose is what draws people together into a community. It defines a community. It is what leads members to contribute their knowledge, experience and ideas. It is the measuring stick for assessing the effectiveness of the community, the suitability of social software selected and the effectiveness of management guidance. A Strong Purpose will attract people to create and contribute to a community. It provides value to the enterprise and that value is what motivates firms to adopt social business software platforms or sponsor collaborative communities.

The Six Principles of Mass Collaboration will be presented in my next blog post.

How Social Business Software changed how a leading South African Retail firm innovates

During the first quarter of 2012, a well known, leading South African Retail chain deployed WyseTalk Social Business Software. Following a well planned and structured program it established the purpose of the SBS deployment: The roll-out would  be implemented and would seek to improve internal efficiencies and innovations.

While it took some time for the culture of the business to align to the SBS environment, it started to take hold. One afternoon the CEO, based at his head office in Cape Town, asked his staff the following question: “If any of you know how we could do something more efficiently or more innovatively within our business, then please let us know.”

A week passed and one Friday afternoon an answer popped up within the community. It was from the personal assistant to one of the operations managers in Johannesburg. She suggested that the current procurement system between the distribution centres and the retail outlets were somewhat antiquated, too manual and prone to errors.

Her answer was an Excel macro template which resolved 95% of these errors. Unbeknownst to anyone in the company, Linda was an Excel whizz and her solution, according to the Financial Director would save the business in excess of R 250.000 per annum.

Linda was publicly rewarded by the CEO and sent on a week long cruise for her efforts.

Three things happened here:

1) The real ROI for the deployment of Social Business Software within the organisations environment was established;

2) The executives now realise that there are people within their organisation that have some really smart ideas and that SBS provides them with a platform to stand out from the crowd;

3) Employees want to be recognised and SBS will give them a platform to be creative, collaborate, share and build a better company.

Green shoots have started emerging throughout the organisation and it is expected that improved efficiencies within their environment will yield savings in excess of R 1 million in the next 12 months.