Sitting at LexThink today, which is a day-long Open Space session, where the organizers have gathered 50 lawyers, bloggers, authors, and independents. We are talking about a variety of topics, though the focus seems to be mostly about "creating the perfect, 21st century firm."
I was in a morning grouping around collaboration, we touched on a variety of interesting topics around how to make collaboration happen and where collaboration makes sense in the world of business. Some of the big hits for me were trust, passion, and a unique aspect of virtual collaboration.
Collaboration can only happen in an environment of trust. It's probably deadly obvious, but it needs to be said that without trust, people cannot truly work together and build something new.
Collaboration feels like it is more "loose" than "structured." This made a big connection to me in the personal / corporate knowledge management discussion. This then led the group to a discussion of passion and how this leads to better means of collaboration with people. True collaboration can only happen amongst people who are interested and excited about the concept. The topic of passion seemed to be a common thread across many of the conversations through the day, both on a personal level and the level of running a new firm.
The value of the virtual collaboration is that we can build relationships with our prospective collaboration partners without the filters of how they act or our own stereotypes about what they are. In other words, the only image I build of you is based on what you talk about. And if those things make sense to me and suggest to me a set of skills that might be valuable for a collaborative project.
This may sound antisocial, but someone suggested dinners and related networking activities are "inefficient" mechanisms for getting to know people. He would rather learn about people's ability and skills and context by reading this stuff online. This isn't an end in itself, but when these people get together on a project, they have a different baseline of understanding and context around one another, and they can begin work at a higher level. All the work around building common understanding doesn't get in the way of doing the collaboration work.