A space for change makers.

Social Innovation Interview 5: How to Collaborate Online


In the first Social Innovation Interview episode of the new year, we talk about how to collaborate with your team and your community in an online platform. What challenges have come up for you in your online innovation initiatives?


[0:00] [music]

Kayla: [0:06] Hi, I'm Kayla.

Christian: [0:07] Hi, I'm Christian.

Kayla: [0:09] Today, we're going to talk about online team collaboration, so we have a few questions about how the online conference can work. Today, we want to talk about some challenges that might come up in your online team collaboration process, and how you might overcome them.

Christian: [0:26] To be specific, in our case we're often dealing with ideas. In a thought innovation process, a lot is about ideas. You want to change something, and you want to find solutions, so you hopefully have great ideas to tackle this problem you have.

[0:42] What is typical of online innovation properties is that you have a brainstorming, ideation phase. You quite quickly, if you mobilize rightly, check the podcast we did about that, then you get a lot around ideas for your problem. Then the issue is, how are you actually going to build out the best ideas?

[1:03] How you're going to work on those ideas to be real solutions. This is often quite tricky, but we have a great example of one of our clients. ClimateKit is and environmental network around Europe, they deal with various environment topics, and they did an open innovation slam.

[1:24] What they did, they were asking about environmental topics, a key challenge, and they just [inaudible 1:30] the ideation, and the jury, and then promoted the best ideas like this. They really wanted to have some collaboration around ideas online.

[1:40] What they did, they obliged the participants of the process that once they had put up an idea, they had to find partners. They had to form teams to their ideas, which was a really interesting process.

Kayla: [1:56] What challenges came up to them? Did anyone have trouble forming a team, or once they formed a team, if it was someone they didn't know, was there any clashing?

Christian: [2:06] Yes. What is interesting, you could tell that they really tried to come up with teams, and they had to have at least three members. What they did was the collaboration on ideas was in private, so they didn't make that public within the community, so they could confer themselves, together, and work on the first pitch of the idea they had.

[2:27] This was a really brief pitch to get team members, and then the team itself could really work on a certain framework, how they want to lay out or implement their solution.

[2:38] Of course, many found their friends, so they just of their friends on board in their team and they worked on it, but others, they were alone there, or just two, so they had to find others.

[2:51] That was quite interesting, because they really were trying to promote their ideas in the space. They were really saying, "Hey guys, are you interested?" They were looking for specific skill sets. They were really engaging in discussions, and other ideas trying to get out there.

[3:06] They really tried to promote the idea, and actively then get people to collaborate. The collaboration itself was an interesting idea, because what they did was, they had key questions they had to answer. They really had to work hard, and they needed different disciplines.

[3:22] Mostly, it's not enough, if there was an engineer for example, it was interdisciplinary, so they needed to have different team members. I think that's a really great way to collaborate on around ideas, because they really had to go to different stages, and then once there's team collaboration, once they come up with a good solution to answer the question, that again was made public, and in the community, the process went on.

Kayla: [3:49] Interesting. Did [inaudible 4:00] KAC have to do any moderation within the groups, or did they work it out eventually on their own?

Christian: [3:59] That's a good point interesting. They did not do much moderation, as far as I remember, and that always makes it, of course, a bit tricky. We know from our experience that facilitation and moderation is absolutely important. What they did very good as they reached many, many networks, and they got a lot of different stakeholders or people with different backgrounds.

[4:18] Within the team, it was less to the teams themselves, which sometimes is a bit tricky depending on how active they are, and to what extent they've been in contact. I think many moved out to Skype, they had calls, they talked to each other, so I think that was very important, too.

Kayla: [4:38] How many projects made it through to completion, or to the next stage?

Christian: [4:44] I don't have the complete numbers now in my head, but I think about two thirds were able to get this next task, and really that was what was required. Out of these, a jury than chose specific ones for an eventual weekend to really work on. Obviously, there is this challenge of anonymity.

[5:06] Often, you work with people you don't even know, so how do you find participants and incentives to work with each other? To my surprise, they worked quite nicely. This obligation that they had to work in teams fit right into it, so they gave their best to do that, to find people.

[5:24] It really works, to some extent, quite nicely, but of course there are many ways to learn, to make that even better. In some regards, it has to happen that way because out of necessity, obligation and so on, people work together on one desk and sit there, the same as we have people from different locations right now.

Kayla: [5:44] Obviously, you have created an environment where people felt comfortable reaching out to people they didn't know and starting a project with them.

Christian: [5:52] Exactly. What was nice to see, of course, is that one person has the idea, and that person owns and keeps the idea. Of course, what that also shows is once they keep the idea, they realize, "I just have the idea, but I need people to move on. I can not probably solve it myself."

[6:13] It's not an obligation that you have a team, but many people realize that you have to have a discussion. The idea was so much better if you have more people involved, who had different viewpoints and they really enriched the idea to get something better out of it.

Kayla: [6:33] Do you have any final thoughts on challenges that may come up in the collaboration process?

Christian: [6:38] We're going to talk about it in the next podcast, on and on. We have now found many challenges, and we're on a learning path. We learn a lot every day. Thanks so much.

Kayla: [6:48] Thanks, guys. Bye.

Christian: [6:49] Bye.

[6:50] [music]