Best practice report: Collaborative Tools and Methodologies

February 3, 2014 by BPIR.com Limited

Example Cases
Valuable lessons can be learned from the following organisations:

ONERA, France

Collaborative tools at an aerospace research agency

Onera, a French aerospace research agency, developed an Onera SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) Partnership Strategy and introduced three collaborative tools.

  1. The shared risk development contract, a collaborative tool that compensated for technological and risk asymmetries, as well as technology transfer.
  2. The Onera SME technology charter, which was a more general framework to these relations and was fully positioned as an institutional collaborative tool.
  3. The Onera spin off charter, which was a collaborative tool to support the integration of researchers into the SME when a technology transfer towards the SME took place.

By 2011, 87 SMEs had signed the Onera SME Charter, and more than 40 licensing agreements, know how communication agreements, or shared risk development contracts had been established.[17]

Northern Michigan University, United States
Knowledge management wiki used as a collaborative tool

A baccalaureate nursing programme at Northern Michigan University in the United States used a wiki as an interactive on-line tool to facilitate communication for a care plan assignment. Students were formed into small groups and given a care plan template covering diagnosis, expected outcomes, and plan interventions to use in their wiki pages. The faculty monitored wiki entries, provided constructive feed-back, and assisted with formatting. Students were able to see connections between classroom concepts, simulated assessments, clinical skills, and post-operative care planning. The wiki care plans with faculty comments were made available for the students to use as a resource for the remainder of the semester. The wikis proved to be useful collaborative tool.[18]

University of New England, Australia

Videoconferencing supports distance learning efforts

In 2002, the University of New England, Australia’s longest continuous provider of distance education, adopted videoconferencing to enable:

  • synchronous communication that was not affected by distracting audio delay
  • the use of face to face interactive teaching and learning experiences at distance
  • student control of learning
  • engagement in active learning, and
  • reliable teacher to student and student to student audio visual communication.

By 2007 uses of Internet-based videoconferencing included:

  • joint supervision between university staff and overseasclasses (using NetMeeting and a Tandberg videoconferencing system when external institutions did not have video-conferencing systems)
  • audio conferencing of tutorials between university staff located in their offices and multiple students in their homes (which became a regular occur- rence most week nights during term time)
  • an increased capacity of Voice Over Internet Protocol VoIP) for audio conferencing
  • the supervision of student teachers at remote schools over Internet based video.

Videoconferencing proved most cost effective with savings being achieved in time and travel costs. [19]

TUI Travel Inc., United Kingdom

“The Big Conversation” delivers for a travel company

After finding in 2010 that 80 per cent of its employees could not name even one of the company goals, TUI Travel Inc., decided to produce a visual representation of its organisational strategy. This representation of TUI’s strategy reflected the nature of the organisation’s business and it also created a sense of fun. Two communication consultancies helped TUI to create “The Big Conversation”; in this, managers talked their teams through what the organisation needed to achieve by using the idea of the “big picture” to lead a discussion on company goals, vision, benefits for individuals and how people could support the organisation. This was complemented by manager discussion guides, DVDs and executive-level backing – all of which ensured successful conversations with the purpose of mobilising, enabling, and energising employees to support and deliver the intended strategy. The story of TUI won an IABC Gold Quill Award. The cost of developing the materials was just £3.33 per person (US$5.36) and despite ongoing troubles in the travel sector; TUI achieved a profit increase of 25 per cent, in addition to a sales increase of 9 per cent in 2012. [20]

 

JTC Corporation, Singapore

Knowledge sharing culture created

In order to drive knowledge creation processes, JTC Corporation, a provider of industrial space solutions, invested in the development of systems to capture and share information among its personnel, and sought to create a knowledge sharing culture. The initial phases included:

  1. Implementation of change management processes and activities to enhance staff awareness and commitment.
  2. Sharing of expertise and experiences among workspaces.
  3. Exploring incentives for knowledge sharing.

Portals for employees, customers, partners, suppliers, industry clusters and the general public were launched. Employees participated in Communities of Practice that were connected by an extensive IT infrastructure. On-line discussion forums and mini-project rooms facilitated discussions. Employees were encouraged to voice their opinions and to search for actionable information and knowledge. A “Knowledge Activist Award” was created to promote and reward knowledge-sharing behaviour. Through these initiatives knowledge sharing was integrated into the employees’ daily work activities at JTC Corporation. [21]

General Services Administration, United States

Crowdsourcing solves difficult problems economically and quickly

Some 50 government agencies in the United States offered prizes to the general public for complex solutions using the website, www.challenge.gov. Examples of the successful crowdsourcing projects include the following:

  1. A solution was sought about how to stop uncooperative fleeing vehicles at conflict zone check points without causing permanent damage to the vehicle or harming any of its occupants. Within a two-month deadline, 150 people submitted proposals vying for a US$25,000 prize. The winner was an engineer from Peru, who suggested an affordable remote-controlled electric-powered vehicle which could accelerate up to 130 miles per hour within three seconds, position itself under a fleeing vehicle, and automatically release an airbag to lift the vehicle and slide it to a stop.
  2. Methods were sought for reassembling previously shredded documents to examine potential vulnerabilities associated with current document shredding practices. The challenge was structured as a race to win US $50,000 and attracted 9,000 registered teams. The winner reassembled five documents that had been shredded into more than 10,000

pieces in 33 days, using a combination of computer algorithms and human assembly. [22]

LEGO Group, Denmark

Crowdsourcing help produce innovative new products

LEGO Group, Denmark, established a crowdsourcing platform called “Cuusoo”, which enabled users to upload their designs to a webpage, where other users could then vote on the appeal of the designs. Models receiving 10,000 votes or more were reviewed with regard to their potential for commercialisation. This led to the following products being generated:

  1. Shinkai 6500, a Japanese expeditionary diver, took 420 days to reach the beta testing stage with 1,000 votes.
  2. Hayabusa, an unmanned Japanese spacecraft, took 57 days to reach the same number of votes.
  3. The Minecraft Micro World set took only 48 hours to win 10,000 votes worldwide.
  4. The Back to the Future Time Machine took nine months to gather 10,000 supporters. During that time, the set was viewed over 400,000 times and attracted over 2,000 comments. Many of the comments offered advice on how to improve the design and where to find inspiration for additional models. Such input was extremely valuable for product development. [6]

The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Knowledge sharing essential part of engineering research

Professors John Boys and Grant Covic from the University of Auckland were joint  winners of the 2013 KiwiNet Researcher Entrepreneur Award, recognising 25 years of work which culminated in the commercialising inductive power technology (IPT). This technology has had a global impact across many fields, including materials handling, electronic vehi- cles, lighting and security. A licensing agreement has been signed with Daifuku, Japan, which led to some 75 per cent of the world’s semi-conductors and flat panel displays being manufactured using IPT technology. The  technology has recently been applied to the new FIA Formula E electric car series, which commences in September 2014. It is intended to use wireless charging technology for the entire competition. Although the University of Auckland Power Electronics Lab is undoubtedly a world-class research centre, the two professors underscored the need for teamwork and collaboration in engineering research. Professors Boys and Covic stated that, “no person would be able to get very far on their own.” [23]

 

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