Precision collaboration

Once again, watching Modern Marvels yields another software idea. This time an episode on harvesting referenced the practice known as “precision farming” (also “precision agriculture“).

Aerial view of farmland

Rather than treating everything equal on a farm with a crop harvest in mind, precision farming enables farmers to take a different view of their crops and land. Farmers can see that specific area need more or less water, more or less fertilizer, are more or less ready to harvest, etc. Precision is used to provide for the actual needs of the crops, which in turn benefits the farmer’s time, lessens the environmental impact due to farming and increases crop yields.

This got me to thinking about collaboration in general and then my own collaboration wherever it takes place. Is my collaboration as effective as it can be? Can a sort of precision be brought to bear on collaboration? Is their a science or psychology to collaboration as there is to agriculture so that a high-level (satellite) view can be produced in order to determine where collaboration will yield the desired outcome and where it needs more or less of a particular concern, whether participants, content, discussion, connection, context, control, process, reward, vision, immediacy?

I believe that there is; therefore, I coin the phrase “precision collaboration” to embody the practice of looking at collaboration–enterprise-wide, group-based, even ad-hoc–as a process with intrinsic variability that should supported accordingly.

Before I was introduced to precision farming, I started reading Beyond the Desktop Metaphor, which is an edited collection of current research on integrated digital work environments. Although I’m haven’t finished reading it yet, this book has already challenged and also validated my thinking where these environments are concerned with content and collaboration.

While I could probably blog more about this now, I’m going to wait until I’ve finished this book–and perhaps a few others–in order to better collect my thoughts and ground my thinking with real-world examples. Collaboration is personal, and frankly I’m not sure that a blog is the best way to convey thoughts collaboratively (notwithstanding comments). Nevertheless…