Tammy Erickson says “The frontier of human productive capacity today is the power of extended collaboration…”

In her post yesterday on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, she argues that companies increase productivity in two primary ways: They either develop and adopt new management practices, or they adopt new technology and integrate it into the way they work. Historically, she says, adopting new technology has proven to have a greater impact on productivity growth over the long haul.

Today we are faced with a new wave of collaborative and social technologies entering the workplace that represent massive potential productivity increases. 

 “But there’s a catch,” Erickson writes. “Technology adoption only improves productivity if it is accompanied by concurrent changes in the way work is done. … …returns generated by these [technology] investments found that productivity growth occurred only when the technology was accompanied by thoughtful business process innovations … In fact, technology adoption alone, without the accompanying changes in work practices, had little or even a negative impact on productivity.”

She goes on to say that whether or not we realize the benefits of new collaboration technologies will be dependent how well we can incorporate “…thoughtful changes in the way work is done.”

I couldn’t agree more. In our experience, whether you are talking about a few people planning the next fundraiser for their non-profit or scores of programmers scattered around the globe using new technology to collaborate on a multi-million dollar development – You get the greatest return on collaboration, and the attendant productivity increases, when it’s done thoughtfully, intentionally, and with a rigorous process.  

Read Erickson’s full post here