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Breaking the Culture Code

July 15, 2009 - 3 Comments

“People do what you inspect, not what you expect.” — Lou Gertsner, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

In my last blog, I shared the first finding from the study, Collaboration: Know Your Enthusiasts and Laggards (.pdf doc), which grouped collaborators into one of four segments based on their habits, attitudes, behaviors and their organization’s policies and practices.The second finding — and one of the most valuable — reveals that organizational culture influences collaboration success as much as the tools themselves. Several key factors enable a productive, innovative, collaborative working environment.First, executive behavior modeling directly influences a collaborative working environment. More than 90 percent of Collaboration Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators agreed that their management team serves as a good role model for using collaboration tools. In contrast, only 65 percent of Reluctant Collaborators and 57 percent of Collaboration Laggards agreed.Secondly, tracking and rewarding collaboration behavior influences uptake. Approximately 40 percent of study participants (more for active collaborators) said their organization tracked collaboration effectiveness. Companies use metrics that include travel cost savings, time to market, and speed of issue resolution. Further, about half of all respondents agreed that their companies include collaboration in performance reviews and offer bonuses and other rewards for successful collaborative outcomes. Thirdly, organizations that implement formal collaboration processes produce more collaborative behavior. Examples of collaboration processes include weekly group conference calls or blogging requirements. Far more Collaboration Enthusiasts (86 percent) and Comfortable Collaborators (63 percent) said their companies had a formal collaboration process in place than did Reluctant Collaborators (54 percent) and Collaboration Laggards (29 percent).Finally, and not surprisingly, the most successful collaborators responded that their organizations provided collaboration tools and the training needed to use them effectively. Collaboration Enthusiasts (95 percent) and Comfortable Collaborators (94 percent) more often said the technical tools that support collaboration were in place at their company than Reluctant Collaborators (73 percent) and Collaboration Laggards (46 percent). The pattern is similar for training: Collaboration Enthusiasts (90 percent) and Comfortable Collaborators (92 percent) were far more likely to say that they, and members of their workgroup, had received the necessary training to use collaboration tools effectively than Reluctant Collaborators (71 percent) and Laggards (49 percent).At Cisco, we understand the importance of organizational culture on collaboration first hand — after a long journey where collaboration did not start quickly or smoothly. As I have written in the past, collaboration is a tops-down process, starting with the CEO. For a brief overview of how Cisco cracked the culture code on collaboration, a recent Fast Company article provides a succinct and fun read. VOD: It’s not “IF” you collaborate, but “HOW”

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  1. thanks alot

  2. Excellent quote from Gerstner and excellent book.

  3. Alan, what's your Twitter name? Would be good to catch some of these things from you on Twitter.... I tend to follw that more than sometimes.good read!NOTE: Alan's Twitter handles is @ascohen.More Cisco Twitter handles are here: