Most businesses are familiar with the concept of unstructured collaboration. This style of idea sharing is not organized by pre-defined models or regulations. It’s the team brainstorming session, creative and free-flowing. In regards to software, unstructured collaboration is exemplified by comments on Google Drive documents or inter-office applications that allow employees to freely communicate with one another.
Structured collaboration software—an up-and-coming category on G2’s site—has a similar finish line, but takes a different route. In practice, structured collaboration is the regulated team meeting with pre-determined topics and clearly defined end goals. In software, it’s a tool that champions decision-making within companies by providing a platform for various viewpoints to be evenly considered.
Take, for example, the structured collaboration tool Fingertip. Its website lists the process order as draft, share, propose, decide, execute, evaluate and, lastly, close. Decisions can be dispersed among team members and collaborated on within the application. It keeps conversations organized so individual input is never lost in the shuffle.
Another tool available for review on G2, Nextinit, describes itself as an idea management platform. It focuses on determining goals by defining areas where organizations could improve. It melds the decision-making process with gamification, challenging users to compete to come up with the best, most innovative solution. It removes the staleness of primitive collaboration efforts, encouraging participants to be social and have fun.
Loomio is another such software that is not afraid to facilitate healthy disagreements among team members. Its framework pushes organizations to develop the best solutions and not only the most popular. Decisions can be public or private depending on the topic’s sensitivity. Time constraints boost employee motivation to include their input before it’s too late. These features can either contribute to or take the place of in-person meetings. They also help off-location employees contribute to company discussion.
There will, presumably, always be departments and teams that prefer to sort out their ideas sitting around a table in the same room. There is an electric energy to on-the-spot brainstorming, spitballing concepts and workshopping them into something achievable. There is no substitute to live innovation.
However, there comes a time when companies need to get down to the brass tacks of ideation without the bottlenecks and distractions of real-time discussion. Structured collaboration software is an innovative solution in helping the dreamers become the doers.