Collaboration at Scale: Why Technology Alone Doesn’t Work

Web 2.0 at Work
Location: 2010 Level:
Average rating: ****.
(4.75, 12 ratings)

Innovative companies increasingly want to collaborate across time, space and organizational structure restrictions. Web 2.0 technology holds great promise, but in practice often comes up short. This session focuses on how to maximize the value of technology, by systematically understanding human behavior, motivations, and organizational design to build optimal solutions.

Web 2.0 technologies fail because people are not motivated to use them, when they require “unnatural” behaviors that are counter to the organizational culture, and when it is not clear from the onset what kinds of information and knowledge want to be shared.

Design thinking, which takes a human centered approach to system design, is helpful in many stages of building a knowledge sharing system within an organization. It helps inform the appropriate technology choices, the types of content that need to be captured and shared, the incentive system for participation, how to keep content fresh and participation strong. It also can help in understanding how to achieve high adoption rates for a system by linking the needs and rewards of the organization to those of the individual participants.

The session will address key principles for maximizing the value of technology in Web 2.0 systems that have been derived from IDEO’s own experiences. The decisions made will be illustrated through actual live demonstrations of how these choices have been implemented in an operational intranet.

The discussion will be focused on helping attendees share how other organizations are meeting these challenges and in brainstorming new approaches.

Photo of Doug Solomon

Doug Solomon


Doug Solomon leads technology strategy efforts at IDEO, working with clients to effectively leverage technologies that create both business and social value. With more than twenty-five years of leadership experience in the information technology industry, Doug has a particular interest and experience in collaborative technologies that enable greater community engagement and participation. Prior to IDEO, Doug was Vice President of Investments at Omidyar Network, helping pioneer a new approach to socially impactful investing. He was also Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Strategy Officer at both Apple and Palm, in addition to holding leadership roles at Interval Research and several technology startups. Doug began his career by applying marketing and other business concepts to public health programs in Asia, where he learned the importance of cultural awareness and community involvement in achieving meaningful social change. Doug is a volunteer chaplain at Stanford Hospital. He has three children and a fabulous wife, who all continually teach him how to be a mensch. Doug earned a Masters Degree from the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii and a Ph.D. in Communication Research from Stanford University.

Photo of Gentry Underwood

Gentry Underwood

Orchestra, Inc

Gentry leads IDEO’s knowledge sharing initiative, an internal taskforce focused on designing and developing human-centered technologies that enable richer collaboration and knowledge sharing between individuals, team, and offices.

Gentry began his work at IDEO as a human factors specialist, and has formal training in interaction design (Stanford), counseling psychology (Santa Clara University), and community psychology (The Peabody School, Vanderbilt).

Prior to IDEO, Gentry had worked as an interaction designer for IBM Almaden (USER), Reactivity, London Road design, as well as as an independent contractor. He worked as an adult, family, child, and school counselor in the San Francisco Bay area, has made two documentary shorts (one of which aired on the nationally syndicated show Democracy Now), and is an amateur photographer.

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Picture of Mark Scrimshire
Mark Scrimshire
04/05/2009 4:05pm PDT

Very illuminating presentation. Technology is just part of a solution. Engagement is critical to success.

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