Publications Cloud Collaboration The Cloud. It’s a great place to store photos, backup your contacts, get directions, and access email from just about anywhere. We use it every day, even when we don’t realize it. It’s become a resource for productivity and storage in a time when we’ve move more toward digital environments than ever before. In the professional world, the cloud has helped to change office workflow by improving collaborative efforts among teams. With chat rooms, shared files and documents, and the ability to share anything almost instantly from a phone, what does collaboration really mean? For us, it’s about more than sharing notes. In a recent article in F@st Company magazine, author John Brownlee wrote about a new cloud-based collaborative program called Mural, which is designed specifically for brainstorming sessions. In it, he states that “brainstorming works because everyone is in it together from the beginning.” We would like to add another component to that statement: when a new initiative is in the development process, it’s always a good idea to have representation early on from people in different departments; brainstorming is just one part of the idea process. The bottom line is that the most successful initiatives involve early collaboration from several interested parties. Aside from the fact that it can save a lot of time from bringing others into a project and “filling them in,” it also helps people to feel included which is good for morale as long as the project is somewhat related to their role in the company. Cloud Collaboration As managers and leaders, we can use cloud-based collaborative software to work outside the boundaries of the office, and still get results from people. For example, some people do their best thinking while in the shower. Others do it while exercising or driving to work. And if you’ve ever had one of those moments of a great idea, you may already have had the frustrating experience of being confident that you’re idea was so good it could never possibly be forgotten, only to not remember it later, or not have it return in its original form. With the collaborative platform easily accessible from just about anywhere, the barriers between management and junior employees can be opened to allow for new talent to shine and an increased spirit of collaboration therefore helping companies to make the most of their employees and build a challenging and creative environment. If you’re in a leadership position, using cloud-based collaborative tools can also help to find, and develop, the best talent in your team or in your company, regardless of location or time zone. We believe that the most successful managers are not only actively doing their jobs, but they’re also engaging and building the talent on their teams. As leaders we do this for two reasons. The first is so that those who are motivated and open to challenges have the opportunity to grow and shine without looking for opportunities elsewhere. Let’s face it; when you lose a good employee to another opportunity, there must have been some reason that they were either looking, or open to discussing with someone from the outside. For those talented people we don’t want to lose, collaborating on a new project is an opportunity to see their potential and show them that they are valued as part of the larger organization. In the long run, it can also lead to advancement and when you have the opportunity to promote from within, without the long training time for someone from the outside, your productivity increases that much faster. The second is that by including people at all levels in projects (where appropriate) there is typically a perspective or piece of knowledge that would have been otherwise unrealized. This can be especially effective when looking for information that’s beyond the data on paper. Marketplace perceptions, the true desires of a particular age group, or how people in a demographic really spend their free time are pieces of knowledge that can help with product and service offerings and making sure they get to the right people and right places. Of course, with any new software there is a learning curve and it will take time to find the right one for your particular business. If you take the time to find it, implement it, and make it a standard of introducing new products or initiatives, the rewards may go we ll beyond the next product launch. Experiment. Lead. Grow. Have fun!