Founded in 2006, Thrive is known for unlocking the potential of teams and organizations through collaboration. In an interview with CIO Applications, Maureen Ennis, the CEO of Thrive, provides some useful insights on collaboration as an essential element for success in the digital era.
Please give us an overview of Thrive’s offerings and the unique proposition it brings to the collaboration technology space.
Progressive leaders seek our help to build engaged, agile teams that achieve results. The heart of our work is unlocking team performance by getting teams to work together more efficiently and enabling collaboration across boundaries. We think of ourselves as collaboration catalysts.
There are a lot of great collaboration tools out there, but the challenge is getting people to use them, and building teams that are committed to helping each other succeed. We work with our customers to discover specific opportunities, redesign core processes using workplace collaboration technology, and institute new ways for teams to work together. We combine our experience of building high performing teams, and leading-edge collaboration technology expertise to design new powerful ways for teams to work together.
Brief us about the quintessential role Thrive plays in assisting its customers. If possible, elaborate the same with a case study.
Our role is to paint a picture of collaborative work practices, and show teams how they can be more productive, innovative, and successful together. We once had a leader at a Fortune 100 Pharmaceutical company remark to us that “Blogs are for teenage girls.” It never occurred to him that a blog could be valuable in business. By the end of our engagement, we showed how the team could use a blog and other collaboration tools to share information across multiple product teams and streamline product launches. We designed, built, and implemented a community where global teams from different areas of the company could easily collaborate around a core process and share the best practices. Anything that helps to speed up a new drug release in that industry has a significant impact on revenue. We removed knowledge barriers for teams that were facing similar problems over and over again, and the team was recognized globally for their contribution to “Launch Excellence.”
In other instances, we find the change required is more about the people than the technology. Ubiquitous tools like SharePoint can streamline information and eliminate hours of wasted time that knowledge workers spend every day looking for information. Unfortunately, if the people collaborating in these spaces don’t have trust or care for each other’s success, the initiative will never get traction.
One of our most exciting new services is enabling collaboration outside the boundaries of a single company to drive innovation and economic development
We work with teams to build alignment, interdependence, and commitment, and we call it the human side of collaboration.
You’ve recently launched Thrive Manager Academy, tell us how that connects to collaboration.
Manager Academy is our collaborative learning solution. In 2016 we launched it to serve two major needs we identified among our customers:
1. There was an overload of collaboration technology being released, but leaders did not have a clue about how to use it in a meaningful way to communicate or build community with their team, their colleagues or customers. Corporate social media launches were more of a distraction than a disruption.
2. Building manager capability showed up as key problem requiring a solution as companies started to rely on more agile coaching models to drive performance and less on traditional performance management systems.
We saw it as an opportunity to build manager capability through a high-quality collaborative learning program, and give managers exposure to some best practices to be used in collaboration with their team. In collaborative and social learning, participants learn by working together and from each other’s experiences.
Thrive Manager Academy leverages leading-edge collaboration technology to create an “out of the box” scalable, mobile, and social learning program. We have invested and built the program on our own platform, so our customers do not need to purchase, apply, and keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology in this space. It is free for service, making it appealing to both large corporations that need to scale quickly and small businesses that benefit from the access to a quality program and a cohort of peers for their managers to learn from. The program is designed with a blend of self-directed learning along with engaging, virtual classroom sessions, discussion threads, small group projects, and using innovative social media tools like video bookmarking. We have found busy managers appreciate the insightful and relevant content they can access anywhere, anytime through mobile. However, the most impactful moments for them are clearly the opportunities to connect with peers across the country to discuss issues, learn new approaches, and feel as if they are not alone.
Where do you think Collaboration is going in the future, and what is Thrive’s roadmap for the next several years?
Every day our world becomes more complex, digital, and networked. Collaboration is expected to become more and more critical to business for connecting and working with colleagues, customers, and even competitors in the future.
Leading virtual teams will continue to emerge as essential for leaders and managers. Thrive will be an early adopter of new tools that put human connection back to the forefront of our work experience. Later this year, we will be releasing a series of advanced courses in Manager Academy that include Leading Virtual Teams and Leading in a Disrupted World.
One of our most exciting new services is enabling collaboration outside the boundaries of a single company to drive innovation and economic development. We have recently been certified in Purdue University’s open innovation technology, Strategic Doing. Our plan is to connect corporations, private businesses, and entrepreneurs within an industry to collaboratively develop solutions to address a specific challenge and build a stronger community.
Thrive will continue to evolve, alongside their customers to prepare for a future that is unlike the past.