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Collaborator … know yourself!

This is not a paid promotion. It is not even a recommendation. Rather; it is positive feedback which is, of course, subjective. I am talking about the Kennedy app.

intelgent machines‘A minimalist journal that helps you contextualise your memories’, is how the app was described when it was launched a few years ago. The name Kennedy is a reference to the ‘where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ thing. The essential focus of the app is that it lets you capture data at any particular moment of your choosing and file a note. So you may be having a coffee with a friend and you can then decide to journal that by capturing a photo, writing a note and also add a geo location, time of the day, weather, a small bit from the news of the day etc. This can be done as many times as you like. However, that in itself is nothing special. What is interesting though is that after capturing such data for, say, 6 months, you can create a report that tells a story. About yourself.

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly becoming part of our daily life. Small tools such as the above app can, and I believe should, help all of us to be better at collaborating. And not in the way that the current crop of so called collaboration tools work. For those who are not aware, most collaboration tools tend to work by sharing information, creating better ability for a group to communicate, and generally guiding the process through a group of individuals working towards a final goal. What is yet to emerge is a greater synergy between these tools and the people themselves. The collaboration tool of the near future will be your best friend who will help you while you are collaborating.

Here is what I mean. Imagine you are working with a large group of people developing an idea. Some of these individuals are from your own organisation and you know them well; some you may have met before but are from another organisation; and some are people you have never met. In this particular scenario, while also understanding that not everyone has the same level of collaboration experience and skill, you have discussed some ground rules on how you might collaborate (although you should not be surprised to hear people claiming that they ‘love’ to collaborate, thus overestimating their own capacity). In rare situations a proper model and strategy of collaboration may have already been introduced, in which case you will immediately get the feeling that the collaboration you are part of will bear fruit.

Now, back to our scenario … at some point you may want to contribute something to your fellow collaborators and it just so happens that you have access to a collaboration aid that provides you with some insight based on your previous collaboration experiences (maybe an app similar to Kennedy) which, based on data collected, reveals you get mostly negative feedback when you present an idea to a large group of people. What you do notice, however, is that that result varies depending on the size of the group. So your collaboration aid tool reveals that in 10 similar past situations you received positive feedback on the three occasions that you addressed a group that was small.

Armed with this knowledge, you may rethink your intention to present the idea in the first place. Or you may take extra time to consider another way of presenting it. All this is important because the app recording this data may also reveal, as an example, that when you get negative feedback, you tend also to be more critical of your colleagues’ ideas and contributions. This then adds another dimension that can help you strategise on how you might become a successful collaborator.

Imagine having such insights at your fingertips and being able to integrate these into your work as you go. They could help you be a more effective collaborator: one whose value as a professional would be more regarded than otherwise. We tend to overestimate our capacity to remember a lot from past experiences and we certainly tend to repeat past mistakes a lot easier than we’d like to admit. When we collaborate we are investing our time and energy. This investment should bring results, which is why we need to be serious about the way we collaborate. A little self-knowledge, even aided by emerging and available technology, is a good thing.

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