The Engagement Factor & Collaboration

April 23, 2012 - 4 Comments

Have you ever sent an e-mail that’s been misinterpreted and it took a long time to sort out the miscues? I have. And I suspect that many of you reading this blog have too.

So, it wasn’t surprising to see that a recent study by the Economist Intelligent Unit found that 88% of business leaders feel that a significant misunderstanding will slow them down. And 75% believe that in-person collaboration is critical to their business success. Perhaps that’s because 54% consider gauging engagement and focus to be the most important part of communications. And you do that through a combination of visual and audio cues, such as facial expressions, gestures and body language, tone of voice.

In my own interactions I do believe this is critical, but in today’s world you can’t always be there in person.

Personally and as an executive, collaboration technology has changed the way I do things. On the personal side, I have two boys. And they couldn’t be more different. The oldest has a mellow, easy-going personality, while my youngest one…let’s just say he is the opposite. Another way of describing him is that he is driven with a bit of a short fuse.

I travel a lot for business, which is hard on my family, but Telepresence helps to bring us together when I am away. Recently my youngest son and I had an in-person, face-to-face, heart-to-heart talk — over Cisco TelePresence. He had been in a fight with some kids at school and he didn’t want to talk; but when he took his sunglasses off I could see he had a big shiner on his face – and I could see how upset he was. With Telepresence I could read his body language and he could see that I understood his frustrations – and that I was serious about the consequences of his actions.

On the business front, when Tandberg first joined Cisco, it took us just 12 months (instead of several years) to complete the integration. We built trust and ironed out operational details in record time. We made some tough decisions while bridging both geographic distance and different corporate and social cultures.

Our success was possible only because we engaged our employees through the use of our collaboration tools. We built trust with in-person experiences over TelePresence; we shared content, had discussions and made decisions using Quad, our enterprise social software platform; and WebEx offered the flexibility of meetings from home or on the road across three or four time zones. The experience was a true testament to improving performance with collaboration.

In both examples, I’d like to point out that first and foremost it’s all about the people. It’s about engagement.

At home, it’s about ensuring that my son and I have a clear understanding. At work, it’s about ensuring that our executives are engaged in closing deals, our engineers are engaged in innovation, and our field team is engaged in selling and helping customers transform their organizations.

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  1. Great post. Very often the issue with communication is that you think it happened…

  2. Great perspective! As one of Cisco’s partners, we also believe collaboration tools are critical within all areas of business, and can be an invaluable asset at home as well. Tools such as TelePresence, Quad, and WebEx have the power to transform the way businesses communicate and ultimately provide the “in-person” engagement that so many businesses fail to offer.