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Consortium for Service Innovation


One of the easiest things for people to embrace about Intelligent Swarming is the value of making it easy for people to work together to solve new issues. In every organization, collaboration takes place constantly with every meeting, phone call, email, or personal interaction. It is the way we get work done.

Intelligent Swarming removes arbitrary and artificial boundaries that inhibit collaboration. The practice of Collaborate is about the nature of the interaction: how and when people collaborate and the outcome or learnings from that interaction. This means we have a location or tool in which to collaborate, we understand how and when it is appropriate to collaborate, and we recognize that collaboration is a valued part of our work.

Process Considerations

People will find the easiest path to get work done. We want to enable this, not hinder it.

The Practice of Collaborate has three main processes that need to be designed.

  1. Asking for Help: make it easy to request assistance from anyone with the knowledge or skills to help
  2. Offering to Help: make it easy for anyone who has the knowledge/ability to opt in and help
  3. Capturing what we learn during Collaboration
    • The 'owner' of the case is responsible for capturing the knowledge from collaboration  

When we think about people collaborating, it is natural to assume it is real time, or close to real time interaction. This is too limiting if our goal is to best leverage an unbounded network of people with diverse skills.  Depending on the nature of the work, we may need real time collaboration. We may also just need guidance on a next step over a period of hours or days. Maybe the person with the knowledge is located in a different time zone and can offer help in a collaboration request while the requestor is off work.  When designing the collaboration process, keep the broadest possible perspective of "working together" in mind.  

Designing the Collaboration Process describes how to think through these processes using specific scenarios.


The Practice of Collaborate is highly dependent on three factors.

  1. The Practice of Connect: People and Work Profiles are leveraged to ensure that the right resources have visibility to the right work. The profile of the work will become more detailed as the original responder engages and captures information. This should allow for increased relevance when connecting to people that have the right skills and competencies to assist.
  2. Culture of Collaboration / Motivators: Creating a culture of collaboration means there is a universal understanding that appropriately asking for and offering help is an important part of the way we work together. This often requires an explicit mindset shift for management as we move away from linear, case-centric processes toward emergent, resolution-centric processes. We need to tap into motivators for Asking for Help and Offering to Help. 
    1. I am motivated to Ask for Help because:
      • It will help me provide a quick accurate answer to the requestor
      • It gives me an opportunity to broaden my skills and gain exposure to new areas
      • I have searched the knowledge base and cannot find any answers
      • I am out of ideas on what the next steps are and need help
    2. I am motivated to Offer Help because:
      • It will help the team provide a quick accurate answer to the requestor
      • I am aligned to the compelling purpose of the organization / company
      • It gives me an opportunity to help others learn and grow new skills 
      • It gives me an opportunity to broaden my skills and learn from others
      • I receive recognition for contributing to overall success
  • Tools Integration: While we do not need specific tools to collaborate since we can consider any interaction between people as collaboration, the advances in tools that allow easy connections have made the reality of Collaboration in an Intelligent Swarming model much easier. 


While putting goals on collaboration interactions or activities is counter-productive, we do want to know that interactions are happening. Use indicators to assess the health of collaboration processes and motivations for people.  

Some potential Indicators of Collaboration Activities:

  • Frequency of Collaboration
    • How often people ask for help
    • How often people opt-in to help
  • Timeliness of Collaboration Interactions
    • How quickly do people ask for help (too fast or too slow)?
    • How quickly do people respond to requests for help?
  • Indicators of Knowledge Activity: The owner of the work (case) is responsible for capturing/updating any knowledge shared during collaboration


Intelligent Swarming would not be possible without the advancement in technologies that enable people to tap into a global resource pool easily across time and space. This is in part what has allowed Intelligent Swarming to evolve.

Many collaborative environments started with a team using free instant messaging tools, which matured into corporate-managed tools. While technology offers us an opportunity to gain scale and efficiency, however, it is also an opportunity to add overhead and complication. Technology offers the opportunity to measure and control, but we want collaboration to be the path of least resistance to getting help fast. 

CAUTION: do not over-engineer the collaborative processes or tools in an effort to impose controls or measures about that collaboration.

Design Techniques for Collaborate

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