Friday, June 02, 2006

[AoyW] Eliminate E-meetings, Collaborate Better

I just came across this fascinating post on collaboration. It posits that group discussion fails when soliciting ideas and feedback. The first few replies in a discussion may be authentic, but every other reply is tainted by them.

It proposes one-on-one email between the facilitator and each participant, e.g. BCC all participants with the request, then summarize their replies, without attribution, to all for feedback/vote via BCC again. This restricts "conversation", which makes sense; everyone knows what a waste of time meetings are.

In the context of peer-to-peer wikis, a dicussion/chat mechanism could provide a "deferred reveal" feature, i.e. all responses are posted to the shared space, but if the topic is marked "no-reveal", only posts by the facilitator are visible to everyone, until the facilitator unmarks it, or enough time elapses.

Going further into wiki editing, the facilitator would put up a page and request enhancements, and participants would change the initial page, without seeing others' changes. The facilitator would then merge the best stuff. How big a pain is merging vs. losing great ideas that don't emerge, and arguing about lesser ideas?

Reminds me of "management by walking around".

P.S. don't read the other comments before leaving yours :-)


At Saturday, June 03, 2006 7:44:00 PM, Anonymous David Shim said...

Thanks for checking out my post Liam. I never actually thought about applying the email concept (BCC) to wikis, but now that you bring it up, I think it makes a lot of sense.

I think the hardest part would be dealing with scale. With the email example, the group is limited to a handful of people, but once you get into Wikipedia levels, the management process might become to much. In addition facilitator may have to much power at Wikipedia level to chose what they consider to be relevant.

I do think on a smaller scale the deferred reveal could be successful.

At Tuesday, June 27, 2006 11:06:00 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

I agree... and was just part of a devolving discussion over coding standards... The vocal parties like to turn the discussion into a favorite... say 8 space indention (that is mine).

At Wednesday, June 28, 2006 6:19:00 AM, Anonymous Keith said...

To counter myself, I think the depth of collaberation is a function of trust/get-along-ness between participants. If the group is able to be open, seeing other's thoughts won't inhibit or dissuade from following seperate paths and will not squelch experimentation.

Maybe I am saying that in a truly collaborative environment everyone is committed to just that... so wondering off the beaten track is prized... since the participants know this is where innovated ideas are found.

This is beehive-ish.

I don't know what I'm saying :P

At Wednesday, June 28, 2006 2:32:00 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

I find the same problem on the most micro-level. This might apply to the individual just as well. One must learn to not listen to one's self too much. In other words, you can't take yourself too seriously or you end up not hearing.

Hmmm. I think I'm working myself into a corner there. But I will allow myself to suggest the following.

I'm thinking of ants and how they search using pheromones. How paths are created to food sources. Cow trails. Solutions as pollen on the legs of bees.

I would argue against myself again. In the previous comment, I suggested that in a truly collaborative environment, there would be a commitment with a purpose in mind between cooperating individuals and that this in itself would conquer. But this assumes a collabortive environment. So that is ridiculous. Whoever I was this morning when I wrote that, I wouldn't listen to him :D

In fact, I've found that I'm rarely listened to. I don't even listen to myself... so there is little possibility of me dissuading myself or anybody else from the ultimate goal of finding relevant solutions to whatever problems I or anybody else comes up against.

At Friday, June 30, 2006 6:59:00 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

I take back the last comment. I find that I -know- the right solution. Or at least I think I know. And my reason for "collaboration" is really confirmation... and moving forwards.

At Sunday, July 02, 2006 5:16:00 AM, Anonymous Victor Grishchenko said...

If you are talking about peer-to-peer wikis and wiki synchronization then you'll probably be interested in the Bouillon project. It is P2P WYSIWYG wiki with reputations. In the Bouillon, each page is assembled from pieces retrieved from trusted social vicinity, so it has to deal with sync/versioning issues as well.
A working demo is currently online, see the site.

At Monday, April 07, 2008 12:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of this sounds a lot like the Group Systems tools (origin many years ago) that allows participants in a room (or connected by web interfaces) to discuss topics established by the facilitator - and usually purposed to elicit discussion on some relevant or pivotal issue. By collecting the individual input anomalously and organizing it by similar idea or thread it is then sent back to those providing the initial input to respond to the input of others.....this isn't new, except for the unrelated nature of the participants. The "Collaboration" comment from keith in his June 28 response in my opinion has it wrong - the trust/get-along-ness has nothing to do with the collaboration that is developed. The Collaboration develops as the discussion begins to focus on those notions that build consensus, and the group/participants begin to agree with no regard from whom the comment came. In this model trust has nothing to do with it since I don't know who offered the original comment.

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