Hubs & Spokes
Organizations hire me to get the most out of Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and their other internal collaboration hubs and reimagine how they work.
END THE INSANITY OF DISCONNECTED WORKPLACE APPS.
Employees in most organizations are accustomed to working in a certain way. That way almost always involves loads of e-mail, files sent back and forth, superfluous meetings, and frantic searches for key files.
No, this scenario doesn’t seem like the paragon of efficiency.
Foolish is the soul who expects all employees in a large organization to change their work habits overnight.
Yes, purchasing and deploying an internal collaboration hub can certainly help solve these problems. To be sure, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are powerful technologies. Organizations are using them to do truly innovative things. So what’s the problem?
Allow me to posit three.
First, the world of work is not returning to its pre-COVID days. At a bare minimum, many if not most of us will work in a hybrid fashion. Make no mistake: the complexities run far beyond scheduling and finding a place to sit. Technology will play a key part in how organizations reimagining collaboration and office life.
Second, relatively few companies are unleashing the true power of these internal collaboration hubs. That is, they have just moved their internal communications to a new application.
If you think that this is a wasted opportunity, trust your instincts.
Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other internal collaboration hubs can do so much more than supplant e-mail—especially when organizations connect them to spokes. I’m talking here about other critical apps and systems. Examples include ERP, CRM, project-management, productivity, content-creation applications, and more.
Third, no tool sports a 100-percent success rate. These hubs are no exceptions to the following rule: Change management is hard. Really freakin’ hard.
Employee resistance to any new technology can be formidable—especially at mature organizations. Far too often, new applications fail because employees simply refuse to use them. This lack of widespread adoption can result in a number of pernicious effects:
- It significantly limits the value that organizations ultimately realize from these internal collaboration hubs.
- It undermines organizations’ efforts to build a comprehensive knowledge base.
- It results in wasted monthly and annual license fees.
- It can lead to confusion among different groups of employees.
If only there were a better way to collaborate.
As a matter of fact, there is.
Perhaps you’ve read my book Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-COVID World of Work—or you will soon. You’re intrigued about using these internal collaboration hubs for something other than E-mail or Skype 2.0, but you don’t know how and where to begin?
Here’s where I come in.
For a quarter-century (yikes), I have helped organizations adopt new technologies. Make no mistake: This process is rife with problems. Specifically, it often involves grappling with thorny change-management issues. With respect to internal collaboration hubs, I do the following for my clients:
- Explain to groups of employees the true powers of these internal collaboration hubs.
- Stitch together hubs and spokes, allowing for a more holistic set of enterprise technologies.
- Identify how hubs and spokes can improve current business processes.
- Conduct employee training as needed.
- Address the concerns of both individuals and groups of employees.
- Identify the key obstacles that inhibit the widespread adoption of an internal collaboration hub.
- Coach the particularly difficult employees who can undermine change.
- Deal with other difficult employee-related communication and collaboration issues as needed.
- And more.
A Note on Engagements
I learned a long time ago that organizations usually struggle when implementing new enterprise technologies—or fail outright. (I joke that if I didn’t write Why New Systems Fail back in 2008, I would have needed to see a shrink. And, please, stop me before I reference another one of my books.)
Brass tacks: Organization change is tough. Individual and group habits tend to stick. As a result, the tech landscape often resembles a morgue.
I bring these valuable lessons to the table on every engagement. When an organization introduces a new collaboration tool, it’s naïve assume that all employees, groups, and departments will willingly adopt it. The “build it and they will come” approach rarely works.
Against this backdrop, I work with my clients to understand each of the following:
- The tools that they currently use to communicate and collaborate.
- Which groups and employees are struggling and which are succeeding.
- The specific goals that they hope to achieve by reimagining collaboration.
- Which business processes would most benefit from hubs and spokes.
- The constraints that they face.
- The scope of the opportunity.
Put simply, I don’t offer turnkey engagements. Why would I ignore an organization’s specific needs, employee backgrounds and skills, regulatory environments, and culture? Doing so would be downright irresponsible and unprofessional. Oh yeah, and the project would most likely fail.
Differentitating Among Training, Coaching, and Consulting
Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or six about successful consulting engagements. Setting expectations from the get-go is essential.
First up, some of my clients want me to conduct discrete, short-term application training to groups and individual coaching for themselves. I’m happy to oblige. Still, it it’s imperative to distinguish this type of knowledge transfer from the consulting that I’m describing here. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s a chasm between the following:
- Showing an individual or group of people how to use a new tchotchke in a bubble; and
- Effecting profound and long-lasting employees and organizational change.
Ideally, my clients understand the power of the Hub-Spoke Model of Collaboration. To this end, a one-week turnkey “program” or crash course won’t yield the desired fruit.
George Bernard Shaw once famously said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”