My wife and I both went down with flu last week, spending most of the four-day UK Easter holiday weekend taking it in turns to be bed-ridden, and I only really returned to work properly a couple of days ago. No easy return, however, as I was already committed to delivering a couple of lectures to students on Manchester Business School’s MBA for Construction Executives, one yesterday afternoon, the other this morning.
This was something of a new gig for me. Through a friendship with academic Nuno Gil dating back to 2004, I have visited Manchester regularly to speak to MSc students (I’ve also done similar sessions at Reading, Loughborough, Salford and Greenwich universities, among others) but these were the first MBA cohorts I have presented to.
Many have years of construction experience as architects, engineers, QSs, etc, and were quite prepared to argue the pros and cons of online collaboration with me, and today’s session in particular got into a lively discussion about the useability of online mark-up tools, how much collaboration could be audited (we drew the line at telephone conversations), and the advantages (or otherwise) of email. A good stimulating session. Several times, I had to remind myself not to defend the technology – pointing out that several of the issues raised (eg: people bypassing their extranet system, or not being able to find things) were more to do with people and processes than technology. While I am plainly an enthusiast for the technologies, I always underline that successful collaboration is 80% or more to do with getting the people and processes right, including initial team workshops, protocol documents, initial user training, management buy-in, appointment of champions, etc, etc. Unfortunately, this was not something that we could adequately cover in just over an hour. Still, maybe next year….