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Steve Jobs and why collaboration is so important


Guest post by David Terrar – Founder and CXO at Agile Elephant

We believe a properly implemented cloud collaboration platform (or enterprise social network) is one of the key building blocks for an organisation adapting to the fast-changing business landscape and handling digital transformation more effectively.  

But why is collaboration so important? Why don’t we take some advice from Steve Jobs and his time with Apple, one of the most successful companies in the world?  

Watch Steve being interviewed for a few minutes and you get some great lessons on collaboration, teamwork, and real leadership that you can apply to your organisation:

What are Steve’s messages?

  • “Apple is an incredibly collaborative company.”
  • How many committees at Apple?  Zero! (Think teams instead.)
  • Apple is organised like a startup – the biggest startup on the planet.
  • The senior leadership all meet once a week for 3 hours and talk about everything they are doing.
  • “There’s tremendous teamwork at the top of the company which filters down to tremendous teamwork throughout the company.”
  • “Teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks to come through with their part without watching them all the time.”
  • Apple is great at figuring out how to divide things up into great teams.
  • “If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you have to let them make a lot of decisions, and you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy – the best ideas have to win, otherwise people don’t stay!”

All of our research backs up these great ideas.  Steve’s advice maps into the Team of Teams approach we highly recommend.  

The organisations managing to connect all their workers across information silos work more effectively. Also, the ones harnessing their people’s knowledge and collective intelligence generate more revenue, more profits and are worth more.  

How do you put that into practice?

We talk about the 4 Cs.  True Collaboration works when you’ve got the right mindset in place with the right tools and ingredients to make it work.

key project elements 

Collaboration is driven by:

  • Cooperation – where you’ve fostered an environment of engagement, trust, and teamwork, where the individuals and teams feel empowered to help each other, and with the flexibility of new ways of working.
  • Communication – from informal channels to forums and support networks, with compelling content and ways to make it easy to capture and spread ideas.
  • Coordination – enough structure and training and management so that the collaboration space where you are building up your knowledge base is easy to navigate, use and reuse.  

What can go wrong?

These are the ingredients to focus on to make a cloud collaboration platform succeed. But how might it fail? 

Here is a list of things that could go wrong, and what to do about them:

  • Employees aren’t involved in the selection process – so like any project, involve your people and communicate regularly so they know what’s going on.
  • It doesn’t work properly/easily – make sure you choose a platform that is intuitive, easy to use and doesn’t require much training (just like Kahootz!)
  • It doesn’t make them more productive – the platform needs to work for them, so make sure the environment is “seeded” with working use cases and some “champion” users who can show the value this approach brings.
  • They already have too many tools to choose from – in some enterprises there are lots of collaboration tools from different parts of the business, so make sure your platform stands out. (With our customer NHS England, one of the key messages was that the platform was much easier to use than all the other choices – click here for more details.)
  • Nothing happens there – don’t start with an empty workspace that feels like a “ghost town.” Make sure the platform starts with some useful data, sensible use cases, and those champion users kicking off the initial activity to make it successful.
  • Too much irrelevant information is being uploaded and it is not focussed for them – you have to strike a balance. Don’t start with too much data. Approach the platform like a gardener, pruning out the less relevant documents, maybe to an archive space, so things stay manageable.  
  • No one else is using it or it feels too much like a ‘clique’ – you need to be inclusive and engaged. Your collaboration platform should be a place people want to come to, make use of, get answers and not be afraid to ask questions.

Please make use of the ROI Calculator and accompanying report to help you make the business case for deploying a cloud collaboration platform, (Kahootz) for your company. 

If you want to investigate this topic and find out more about how to make a cloud collaboration platform work for your organisation, please consider talking to us for advice on what works and what doesn’t. We’d love to hear from you.

David Terrar is the founder and CXO at Agile Elephant. He’s heavily involved in promoting and supporting the UK Cloud scene as Director and Chair of the Cloud Industry Forum, and as a former Chair of techUK’s SaaS Group, and Director of EuroCloud UK.

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