On Collaboration, Preferences, and Stubborness

Why we need to break our routines and change the equation.

I’ve become a big fan of Web-based collaborative tools like Dropbox over the last few years–and I’m hardly alone. It’s just a more efficient way of creating and managing documents than email. Even Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen used Google Docs while writing their new book, The New Digital Age.

Inviting people to folders is beyond simple and accessing even large files can be done with anything, including a smartphone. Yet, when I invite some of my colleagues and clients to view documents in this manner, it’s not uncommon for me to meet resistance. I’ll get an email response along the lines “I’d prefer to not have to use that thing” or a non-response.

Far too many of us rely upon old standbys (read: email).

Simon Says: Collaboration needs to become more collaborative.

Far too many of us rely upon old standbys (read: email). In the process, we minimize our ability to learn new tricks, do things better, and ultimately save time. The larger implication is that we ossify old, inefficient ways of doing things–and alienate those who have found and like to use better mousetraps. Opportunities are squandered. Work that takes minutes to do takes hours.

Break your routine. Change the equation.

philanimated

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10 Comments

  1. Randy Cantrell

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” I encounter the same thing and am always amazed at how people will embrace the difficulty they know instead of trying something less known that could save them hours (and money). 

    Reply
  2. Carol Morgan Cox

    So true – I get the same thing! I guess I’m unusual because I love it when people introduce me to cool new sites and tools – that’s how I first found out about Dropbox, SlideShare, and many others that I now can’t live without.

    Reply
    • Phil Simon

      We have that in common, Carol! I never want to be “that guy.” I always want people to show me ways to save time, be more productive, and to learn. 

      This is why we get along so well. Great minds, right? 🙂

      Reply
  3. Carol Morgan Cox

    So true – I get the same thing! I guess I’m unusual because I love it when people introduce me to cool new sites and tools – that’s how I first found out about Dropbox, SlideShare, and many others that I now can’t live without.

    Reply
  4. Daria Steigman

    Hi Phil,

    I’m going to have to disagree with you on your premise here. It’s your reaction to people who don’t want to use Dropbox (or other new “mousetraps”) You write that “The larger implication is that we ossify old, inefficient was of doing things–and alienate those who have found and like to use better mousetraps.”

    Better for whom? 

    A friend of mine hates Facebook–and rarely goes on there. Meanwhile, several of her friends use it to arrange their entire social lives. The just assume everyone else will check there; but not everyone does. Facebook may be efficient for them, but not if they’re throwing a party and want my friend there (or me, for that matter). 
     
    Particularly when it comes to the way we work, people have different processes that work best for them. I’m very partial to Twitter and text, for example, but less fond of instant messaging. And I’m just fine with e-mail–because it works for me.

    By trying to get other people to fit into your box, aren’t you just doing exactly what you’re complaining about?

    Reply
    • Phil Simon

      Hey Daria

      Thanks for the comment. Well, I wouldn’t call Dropbox my box. Many, many others use it because it’s better. Do I want people to do things my way? I suppose, but I’d argue that it’s fundamentally easier for people to have used email back in the day. Now, it’s equally more efficient to use a tool like Dropbox or Yousend it. 

      There are people who still like typewriters but that’s hardly efficient, no?

      BTW, I just mailed your book!

      Phil

      Reply
    • Phil Simon

      Fair point. 

      I’d argue that tweeting and relying upon email to send revised docs have the same fundamental problem. I can only tweet 140 characters and I can’t easily email a 10 MB database or presentation. I’m a big believer in scale. I’d rather have too much than not enough, especially when the price is free! Great discussion.

      Reply

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