What Can Business Collaboration Learn from Social Media?

Social media has fundamentally changed the way people interact with each other, how we communicate, and how we collaborate on everything from family events to global movements. Funny thing is, there were no courses on how to do this. No one really has a certification in using social media (though I'm sure someone will try to sell that soon enough).

Social media is just sort of intuitive. You join a social network, you connect with family and friends and then begin to share everything from favorite recipes to life events, including photos, documents, commentary, praise and even criticism. In many cases, people using social media have become very adept at collaborating on all sorts of things. Just look at individual, group and company pages filled with events, detailed schedules, milestones and resources. Sound familiar? For those of us in the project management and collaboration worlds, we have often dreamed of an environment where all team members participated, interacted and responded to project goals and milestones.

I can think back to the day I sent my first Gantt Chart out via email expecting everyone on the distribution list to just jump right in and start working. I remember waiting and waiting for responses after patiently entering all the tasks and deadlines. It was a hard lesson to learn. Collaboration doesn't happen because you send out a project worksheet, and let's face it, many of the tools and resources of the past just weren't that easy for people to engage with.

So, with these lessons learned and the widespread adoption of social media platforms, how can we improve business collaboration? Thankfully many of today's collaboration suites seem to be emulating that social media success. Team members, companies, and even clients are taking to collaboration in the cloud the same way they interact in the social world. Posting important items, pictures and documents to a common workspace, and then commenting on them now seems second nature.

While the basic principals of project management and collaboration still exist, the bottom line is that if team members aren't engaged, there can't be much collaboration happening.

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