This is a really interesting story shared by my colleague Patrick Allman on how he was convinced that every company needs social collaboration at work while sitting in the stands watching his son’s 2nd grade baseball game. A story of the old-way versus the new-way, providing a glaring example of how inefficient and outdated our current work tools have become.

The Challenge

Why Your Company Needs Social Collaboration at WorkThe story unfolded like this. As Patrick’s 8-yr old son Jack came up to bat, he turned to his wife and 13-yr old daughter and challenged them to take a picture of Jack and share it with the rest of his extended family that could not be at the game. Whoever completes the task the fastest wins. They both agreed, his wife not knowing what was about to happen.

As Jack entered the batter’s box, his wife (Taylor) gets ready with her fancy Nikon digital camera. She dials in the lens, adjusts her shutter speed, and checks the lighting, determined to get the best picture to share and win the challenge. Meanwhile, his 13-yr old (Sydney) raises her iPhone with one hand, taps the screen with her thumb, makes a few other taps, then lowers her hand and announces, “I’m done.”

The New Way – Easy Social Collaboration

Taylor, confused, says “What do you mean?” Sydney repeats again, “I’m done.” Then explains further, “I took the picture and shared it with all of our family, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I won.” After glancing down at her phone again, she says “Oh and Rachel and Lauren have already viewed it and Liked it. And Matthew just commented. He says it looks like that bat is too big for Jack, tell him to choke up or get a smaller bat next time up.”

After Jack grounds out, Sydney rushes over to talk with him as he returns to the dugout. She tells him Matthew thinks he needs to use a lighter bat next time. Matthew is an expert in Jack’s eyes, as he’s 18-yrs old and a lifelong baseball player. Jack listens and agrees to use a lighter bat next time.

As Sydney returns to the bleachers, Patrick was amazed at the effortless real time collaboration that just occurred. Using the power of social collaboration, Sydney was able to instantly share data, engage an expert to provide insight, then immediately relay that expert insight to the right person, allowing them to make an immediate adjustment.

The Old Way – Overly Complicated Processes

For comparison, Patrick asked Taylor what her plan was for completing the challenge. She explained she was going to go home and when she found some time in the next few days, she would take the SD card out of her camera, find her SD-to-USB adapter, plug the SD card into the adapter, then plug the adapter into her computer and download the pictures onto her computer. She would then search through the 200+ pictures, find the picture of Jack, rename it, then upload and attach it to an email. She would then enter all the email addresses on the cc line in the email, hoping she didn’t leave anybody out by mistake. She would then send the email.

Sydney was shocked and confused “Why would you do all that?!? That’s silly. So much work, and nobody cares about that picture in 3 days, mom.”

Taylor’s process was not broken. It worked and it would have completed the task eventually. The eye opener is Taylor had no idea how inefficient and slow her process was, until she saw a better, faster, easier alternative.

Going further, Taylor could have taken the picture with her own iPhone, then attached the photo to an email and sent it from her phone while still at the game. However, the instant collaboration which Sydney achieved sharing via a social network would not have happened over email. The culture of email is a 24-hour response time is satisfactory. 24 hours in a social network is an eternity.

Effortless Organic Collaboration

The obvious lesson here is how fast information travels via social networks, and how quickly important information can be shared, consumed, and acted upon.

The less obvious, but more powerful lesson, is how collaboration naturally occurs in social networks. No one had to train Sydney & Matthew with a top down forced mandate of ”we are going to use this new tool to be more collaborative and get real time information to our players so they can make better decisions…”.

Instead, Sydney & Matthew chose to use the tool, because it was so easy to use. They naturally shared information, and the culture of social networks delivered the information instantly, so the right person received the right information, at the right time, allowing them to make an immediate informed decision. This type of collaboration just does not occur in email.

Even if Taylor had emailed the photo during the game, she would likely not have received any responses until well after the game was over. Jack would have used the wrong bat for the rest of the game! His double and triple later in the game may have been strike-outs. Lucky for the Rockies, Sydney is using updated real time collaboration tools, which just may have been the difference between winning and losing this game.

Social Collaboration at Your Company

Is your company still attempting to collaborate over email? CC’ing all team members. Waiting 24 hours for each response, extending project and task completion by days, weeks, even months. Or are you using other outdated clunky enterprise software your users rebel against?

Taylor had an Aha moment when she realized her existing process, which had worked for so long, was no longer necessary or efficient. She wondered why it had taken her so long to realize there was a new easier way. When will you have your aha moment?

If you are ready for effortless and immediate collaboration, give Enterprise Social networks like MangoApps a try. Your employees will begin to connect, communicate, and collaborate like never before. Just as in the baseball example above, technology gets out of the way, and allows workers to easily and freely share information. Get more done in less time.