When employees working in reputed organizations were interviewed, they confessed that most of their individual work also are results of them collaborating frequently with their colleagues. Research shows that the following actions are done the most by the collaborative writers −
- Outlining the plan and selecting a single person to draft the document.
- Reviewing, modifying, and providing feedback on the work of colleagues
- Participating in teams with shared authorship
- Ghostwriting for senior colleagues
Experts also mention the skills that are needed for a writer to be able to collaborate properly with other teams. The most important of the skills are active listening and self-reflection, which in this context will be read as self-reviewing.
Other skills include reliability, trust-building, the ability to take criticism without being overtly defensive, having a distinct voice yet acknowledging different perspectives, an ability of managing conflict and managing wrong assumptions and navigating it towards the right one.
Researchers also recommend that writers chalk out some practical strategies to handle different stages of writing process, such as conceptualizing, drafting, reviewing, etc. or to specific activities such as conflict handling etc.
How Collaborative Writing Encourages Idea-sharing
Collaborative writing should be used as an opportunity by the writers to engage different points of view, purposes and perceptions into the documentation process. They can do so by the use of technology like sending emails each other or sharing and merging documents.
For example, Microsoft Office Word has a very good feature “Track Changes” which keeps a record of the changes that individual writers are making to the document, along with the name of the editor or reviewer.
Most collaborative writing experts acknowledge that the existing model for collaborative writing was built keeping the academic education in mind. So to modify the technology and infrastructure to suit and help business needs, the working writers need to stay in contact with the academic communities, share their requirement and feedback with them, so that developers can keep all different suggestions for improvements while coming up with the best interactive tool.
Finding a Collective Voice
Studies of writing teams state that teams give high importance on outlining the practical applications of collaboration and finalizing the best practices like writing, reading, group management, etc. The concept of addressing an audience runs deep.
The most important concept for future collaborative practices will be to understand the viewership that the articles are going to get. It is important to realize how teams perceive and address their audiences.
Now, the audiences can be split into internal audiences (members of the team) and external audiences (non-organization people who are going to read the document). Will the writers get tempted to address the internal audience to gain clearance of their document even if the external audience has different expectations?
These questions are going to be asked more frequently as the collaborative writing process gets further spread and acceptance. Writers term this phenomenon as finding a consistent voice. This voice needs to be consistent with the business scenario or political compliance. Organizations manage to spread their voice through distributing memos, holding meetings, and arranging conferences.