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Effective teams don’t need collaboration tools. Really? [includes podcast and presentation]

Last February I had a chance to attend (and speak at) the NASA Project Management Challenge in Long Beach, CA. In a session about collaboration tools one of the attendants claimed that “effective project teams don’t need collaboration tools”.
I admit that this statement made me think. I am interested in your opinion about this provocative hypothesis:

  • What collaboration tools do you use in your teams?
  • What can you recommend?
  • And what impediments have you been faced with and how did you overcome them?

To give you an idea about my own thinking listen to a recent podcast http://tinyurl.com/63wj84a or attend my presentation at the upcoming PMI Global Congress EMEA in Dublin, Ireland (May 9-11, 2011).

My presentation at the PMI Global Congress North America 2010 in Washington, DC, on the possible pitfalls of introducing collaboration tools  is available at Slideshare.  Click here to view and download a copy.

I am looking forward to your comments.

Posted in: Keynotes, Project Management, Tools

Leave a Comment (4) ↓


  1. Stan Yanakiev, PMP April 16, 2011

    Thomas, I would agree that team effectiveness and collaboration is much more than just a matter of tools. But saying that ”effective teams do not need collaboration tools” is an overstatement in any other sense.

    For instance I am leading projects with virtual teams spread across different countries. Without collaboration tools it would be impossible to do such a project.

    We use: online virtual rooms, sharepoints, messenger, email and phone. Each of these tools has its merits. For instance messenger is good for quick (and non as disturbing as a phone call) interaction, email is better to document some key points, phone is good for a longer discussion and virtual room helps visualize some concepts or data. Face to face communication is rather an exception than a rule.

    So, I really can’t see how a team in a virtual setting would do without collaboration tools.

  2. lynda bourne April 21, 2011

    This question is focusing in the wrong direction:

    Effective teams that need and use collaboration tools need and use them.

    Effective teams that don’t need collaboration tools don’t need them and imposing tools is a waste of time money and effort.

    Ineffective teams need to move towards effectiveness and no tool will solve issues around stakeholder disengagement – it is a people problem. The individuals in the team need to want to engage with each other and create the ‘effective team’ first. It is far easier to ignore a tool than it is to ignore a person seeking to build rapport.

    Once the team is formed, and effective, having the right tools to help the team perform its work efficiently is important (and common sense) but the willingness to want to make effective use of the tool is the key to success.

    Team formation is not necessarily a slow process; concepts such as ‘swift trust’ allow teams to form very quickly (for more on this see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1030_The_Value_of_Trust.pdf ), the management challenge is making sure the environment for team formation and performance is right (and this may, or may not need software systems).

  3. thomasjuli April 21, 2011

    excellent comment. It reflects my own belief and experience.

    Tools can be great and helpful. However, they are just tools. Too often we are tempted to use tools without clarifying first whether or not we really need them and how they can contribute to collaboration.

    Lynda stresses how important it is to first focus on the actual ingredients of collaboration. This starts with team formation.


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