Facilitating Virtual Collaborative Writing through Informed Leadership

Facilitating Virtual Collaborative Writing through Informed Leadership

Catherine Lyman (NetApp, Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-994-6.ch008
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With the right combination of writers, collaborative writing may grow organically in a team. But it is more likely that managers need to set the expectation that collaboration is requirement, provide strong leadership in an organization to make it happen, and measure its effectiveness. Managers need to lead writers down the path to writing collaboratively, finding effective ways to support the implementation of new writing methods. This chapter provides practical approaches that will help develop a manager’s skills for leading virtual collaborative writing teams. The techniques described in this chapter were developed and tested by actual collaborative writing teams, most notably by the Information Engineering team at NetApp, Inc.
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Facilitating Virtual Collaborative Writing Among Leaders

Some writers and writing teams have not ventured far down the collaborative-writing road, but they notice that projects are taking longer to get started. In fact, these projects seem to require that writers cover more ground in the published deliverables than ever before. In such cases, writing teams may benefit from putting virtual collaborative techniques in place. This chapter provides suggestions for helping the team optimize virtual collaborative practices and to identify pitfalls before venturing too far down this road. One key way to get virtual collaborative writing teams up and running is to develop the skills of managers and other leaders as well as the uses of tools and processes. Accordingly, this chapter addresses a number of the principles of collaboration that ground this book—creating a culture of collaboration (Principle 1), finding and promoting leadership (Principle 2), using tools effectively (Principle 4), creating structure (Principle 5), and measuring and tracking performance (Principle 6).

Model the Solution

“How can I expect my team to work collaboratively when I don’t know what they are experiencing?”

“We just aren’t getting anywhere with this project even though we have a bunch of people on it. What is wrong?”

Designated team managers and leaders are a big part of the solution, but so is every manager and leader-without-a-title of-leader on the team. By identifying how the entire leadership team (including the leaders doing the identification) can work collaboratively and by modeling those changes to the team, change will filter down. The efforts that leaders make in learning virtual collaboration themselves will help all writing team members to develop trust in their managers and in each other, but most of all in themselves. All of the suggestions in this chapter directly apply to the manager and leadership team—by providing specific ways to apply collaborative techniques especially during initial learning phases. What follow are suggestions for helping mangers lead and helping them understand what signs point to the need for more collaboration.

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