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Discussing Your Work

Collaboration is the process of creating knowledge together. Whether it’s done face to face or over the Web, collaboration requires content and conversation. To effectively create a new tagline for a company, people need to talk about many subjects—the fundamental mission of the company, who the tagline is for, and more. We’re so used to doing this in a face-to-face context that we don’t even think about it. Online, however, it’s somewhat harder to structure appropriate conversations that get the right people together at the right time to produce the right results.

What’s required is a combination of synchronous (same-time) and asynchronous (any-time) conversations. Synchronous conversation tools are ones like the telephone, instant messaging, and chat. They are great for getting quick reactions and coming to decisions. Asynchronous conversation tools are ones like Web-based discussions and e-mail. They are better for obtaining thoughtful responses, sustaining conversations, engaging all players, and maintaining a record of your discussions. Sophisticated distributed teams are increasingly finding that instant messaging and online meetings are replacing the ubiquitous conference call, because it’s easier to ensure that everyone can contribute. Similarly Web-based discussions are taking the place of e-mail because all the discussions are organized and attached to the document being discussed.


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