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Type A Collaborative Environment and Culture

by Tom Austin  |  September 29, 2012  |  Comments Off on Type A Collaborative Environment and Culture

The following statement from users of a dead product (had its heyday in the 1980’s) reflects a lot of what we see in certain selected Type A pro-social (collaborative) cultures today.  

“The openness, the willingness to help out with the understanding that others would help you out, the desire to keep history alive even as you moved on to the new things, the personal relationships that transcended organizational relationships, the recognition of authority based on knowledge and helpfulness rather than just position – all of these things were reflected in, and supported by, … {insert product name here}” *
The company was Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). The product was “Notes-11,” later “VAXNotes”. Product isn’t the issue. It’s all about culture.
With the right culture, collaborative tools can have a massive impact. (I’m not recommending “build it and they will come” enterprise wide deployments unless certain special preconditions are met.) In the wrong culture, you need a specific proscribed project with delineated needs, measures, rewards, observation, experimentation, iteration, implementation, governance, management, structure and so forth.
The Notes-11 and VAXNotes culture thrived 30 years ago. How sad it is that we still view the pro-social culture described in the italicized paragraph as “Type-A” behavior, probably found in less than 10% of large organizations worldwide.
(I have to thank Jerry Leicher, formerly of DEC (now of Google) for the quote above, from a posting he made in the Digital Alumni discussion group on Linked-In.)

Category: collaboration  culture  social  

Tom Austin
VP & Gartner Fellow
20 years at Gartner
41 years IT industry

Tom Austin, VP, has been a Gartner Fellow since 1997. He drives Gartner's research content incubator (the Maverick Program) and is leading a new research community creating research on the emerging era of smart machines. Read Full Bio

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