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"The response to the new collaborative technology has been overwhelmingly positive."
When we first met Maxine Conner, she was part of a huge effort to modernize the UK's National Health Service (NHS). While the work was exciting, the effort required workers to spend inordinate amounts of time in meetings. The situation had to be brought under control or the entire policy agenda for modernization and service improvement would fail.

One of our founders, Chris Brennan, worked with Maxine and her team to examine the NHS's meetings and collaboration style. He helped them see that while meetings can be very effective they can also be very expensive. A group's high value work is properly done in face-to-face meetings, but lower value group work should be done in less expensive ways such as teleconferences, email or collaborative workspaces.

The collaboration style of NHS people tends to be one that draws from meaningful personal relationships. They also rely heavily on the non-verbal cues they can observe in meetings. Chris saw that an NHS solution needed to give collaborative technology a supporting role while preserving face-to-face interaction. The solution that TeamSpace presented to Maxine allowed the NHS to preserve its basic model for working while at the same time gaining efficiencies from various collaborative technologies.

Maxine's group was the first NHS pilot. The group's goals for the pilot were to reduce their dependency on expensive face-to-face meetings as the only way for the group to work together, to free up time for other work and to meet their modernization goals more quickly. By using a process then called proto-cycling, an early Agile-style approach, TeamSpace routinely incorporated what the team learned during the course of the pilot back into their collaboration solution.

Not surprisingly, Maxine found "the response to the new collaborative technology has been overwhelmingly positive." One team member said, "I feel better overall. Less overwhelmed." As for the collaboration solution's impact on the group as a whole, one team member observed, "The team's work is more focused; [we can] stay more focused on priorities."

Other teams at the NHS are now using the collaborative solution we developed with Maxine and her group. Maxine says, "Having experienced many benefits, we conclude that it is appropriate, in fact imperative, for other clinical teams in the NHS that are challenged by distance and workload issues to explore the potential of collaborative technology."

Not all our clients are inspired to pursue a PhD by our work together. Maxine was. She was recently awarded her doctorate from the University of Middlesex. Congratulations, Dr. Conner.