Recently, a group of my colleagues was given the task of compiling a document. The problem was that there was only ten hours to do it in.
The document was an RFP so there were a number of questions that needed responses. Normally, for this task to get done, the team would need to first assess which questions each person would answer. Then, each would head off on their own and try their best to complete each of them. Later, one lucky person would have the added task of copying and pasting all the responses into a single master document, ensuring that each answer wasn’t replicated somewhere else in a slightly different way.
That just wasn’t going to cut it. There are far too many problem with this traditional approach. Not only is there too much time and energy spent assessing and dividing the questions at the beginning, but the logistics of it meant that it really wouldn’t take long at all for the documents to become out of sync – especially if one person sent through a couple of revisions for a question. It also means that the response are less of a collaboration, instead being a set of distinct blocks of text that don’t have any flow.