Deepening collaborative content

Collaborative content is what remains after collaboration, the results and the memory of collaboration to be shared and used. ALC enables much richer, deeper and more evolutive forms of collaboration.

Short collaborative memories

The poor quality of much content produced by current collaboration tools is often difficult to exploit in the long term. The core information is often embedded in much noise, which increases the difficulty and cost of extracting the most essential.

This also makes it more challenging to deal with complex challenges using the “scaffolding” approach, i.e., as complexity is mastered step by step, building a solid based which serves as reference for the next steps.

This does not mean that today no quality content is created collaboratively. During the last decade, the tools for collaborative editing of documents, slide presentation or spreadsheets have progressed very significantly. They boil down to collecting micro-contributions in forms of track changes and margin comments, which can be accepted or rejected. But they are very limited when it comes to supporting the exchange regarding the underlying ideas, the decision making about what to include in the common result and the commitment to the outcome.

Also, these tools do not organise effectively (i.e., to facilitate future use) the history of how the content was created and which thinking went into creation. Discussions are spread over time and difficult to search. This handicaps collaborative undertakings spread over time as the cognitive characteristics of our human memory (we forget quickly but are able to reconstruct simply memories when there are multiple semantic associations, especially when there is a strong social interaction component). But this history of the collaborative flow that is behind a shared content is often poor or absent.

Rich lasting content

The collaboration patterns represented by symFlo templates make it possible to create lasting SymContent, i.e., content which combines the content with the information about the structured interactions in the symFlo that has led to its creation.

Different subSymFlos can correspond to different stages with different purposes: collecting ideas, evaluating them, curing a list of items, choosing the ones that are taken forward etc. The symFlo structures provide a deep insight about how the content was generated, which dynamics were at play, why and how conclusions were reached.

This content can then be exploited through different means:

  • Pushing results of structured interaction (i.e., a to-do-list with responsibilities taken up by participants) from one subSymFlo / module corresponding to one structured exchange to another.
  • Tagging content and extracting it.
  • Exporting it (through dedicated APIs) to other tools.
  • Leveraging it by training LLM which can then add further value and content.

The resulting information is potentially precious to take the thinking further: Which were the premises? Which facts were considered? Which information was unknown, ignored or discarded? Which individual interests were at play? Additional information, which was collected during a first phase, but originally was not considered of primary importance, can be reconsidered at a later stage … as part of one single symFlo or a sequence of related symFlos.

When relevant and appropriate, thanks to the history of the symFlo it becomes possible to trace, valorise and monetise individual contributions.

Thus, the SymContent can leverage and intensify the collective potential in terms of intelligence, productivity and commitments.

Use case: Streamline tender preparation

Responses to calls for tenders (aka requests for proposals) often involve teams of people from different backgrounds and organisations. For many consultants and designers this is daily business. Sometimes, as in ARTTIC, Christian Baumhauer’s previous company, this activity is a part of core business. Today a lot of time is spent working collaboratively on shared documents or collecting independent documents and then consolidating them manually. The process happens through meetings and conference calls, discussion forums (a la Teams / Slack / Discord…) or through email. The related processes are often time and energy consuming and come with a lot of administrative overhead. Also, in many cases the result is not sufficiently validated by participants, who hence are not fully committed to the outcome, at least as expected by the leaders preparing the integrated response. How to leverage everybody’s intelligence to prepare the best answer? How to collect effectively and quickly all the information that is needed? How to organise effectively quality assurance? Etc.

Symlying proposal developing consortia will be assisted by symBots;

  • Collecting answers to precise questions
  • Collecting multi-perspective feedback on the answers
  • Exporting the results as formatted reports to applications such as Word (or Google Docs), PowerPoint and / or web pages. The structure of symFlos, roles, hats and tags, will drive the structure of the results. SymFlos can refer to documents and inversely be referenced in documents through hyperlinks.
  • Run quality assurance processes, including red teams involving human and virtual experts, suggesting improvements to the draft tender documents.
  • Deciding which improvements are taken up.
  • And, of course, orchestrating the entire process.