A post in Innovation Weblog links to new research into what makes collaboration teams successful (the research is described at How to Save the World, and you can click-through to the research results from there).
The research stresses the personal qualities that are required in successful collaborators. "Enthusiasm for the subject of the collaboration" and "open-mindedness and curiosity" were regarded by respondents as the most important (more than half said indispensable) criteria. Interestingly, however, experience-related criteria (proven trustworthiness, collaboration experience, previous familiarity with other team members, reputation in the field of the collaboration, and business experience), rated at or near the bottom.
What did I take from this research to influence our thinking on construction collaboration technologies? Remember: our technologies don’t collaborate, people do – we merely provide a platform to support some of that collaboration.
Well, other important personal qualities included "candour", "timeliness of follow-through" and "strong listening, feedback and self-management skills". Clearly, then, in an ideal world, the collaborative platform should be set up to be as open and transparent as possible, with strong tools to record, manage and expedite feedback (think beyond commenting and red-lining, look for support for conventional project team processes like RFIs, perhaps even threaded discussion forums where project team members can raise questions and debate responses). I think this also pushes us to consideration of real-time collaboration: web conferencing, whiteboarding, etc.