Recent Insights

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Voice / Natural Language Search of Curated Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Check it out (only works with latest browsers - sorry):

New Organization Structures

Posted on by Brandon Klein

What are the best/new ways to organize teams, companies, groups etc?

It needs to be broken down into categories:

New Organizing Principles:

Self Management:

Pioneered by a tomato company in the 90s, it is one of the most progressive organizing principles around

Teal Organizations:

Self-management: driven by peer relationships
Wholeness: involving the whole person at work
Evolutionary purpose: let the organization adapt and grow, not be driven


A dynamic two-way flow of  power and authority, based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology. 


As Sita mentioned

Organizing Principles that Started at Companies and Spread

Valve Working

Fun handbook that was leaked that is worth glancing through

Lean Startup

Lean principles from the 80s turned into small and medium company ways of working (not just around products)

I think there are hundreds of these!

What are you using? How are you changing? What's next? Will a dominant 'ocracy or'archy dominate the 21st century?






Insights from using Double Robotics for collaboration events

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Technical observations after using Double for 2 months in an office environment:

User Experience

  • Only allow people you know to operate a Double. Double Robots do not have a collision detection sensor. An irresponsible user might intentionally ram into other robots or people (potentially violating the 3 Laws of Robotics), or send it dropping down a flight of stairs.
  • Doubles can be operated through a Chrome browser or an iPhone or iPad. Note that corporate IT departments often don't allow Chrome or may block the site. An iPad with an LTE/4G connection may provide the most reliable method to control a Double from within a corporate environment.
  • Send a stand with the iPad to your operator. You want to get the iPad camera at about eye level for best results. Consider orienting the operator iPad horizontally to keep the controls off to the sides. 
  • Train your operator. The controls are intuitive, but it's a good idea to get your operator familiar with the Double controls ahead of time. 
  • Coach your operator. 
    • Doubles seem more human if they move around all the time. Coach your operator to move frequently and to turn from side to side when talking to people.
    • Consider your face's placement in the frame. Position yourself close to the camera with your face centered in the frame. This looks better and allows the operator device to pick up good quality audio from the operator.
    • Remember to look into the camera lens when talking to people. This will make them feel as if you are looking them in the eye instead of off-camera.
  • Label the robot. Put signage on the Double so people know what it is and how to interact with it. 
  • Each Double should have a human buddy that follows it around and keeps it from getting into trouble (e.g. being stolen, driving into a connectivity dead zone, etc.)


  • Double Robots work with all models of iPads except for the first generation which do not have front-facing cameras.
  • Late model iPads are better than older ones. They tend to have longer battery life, stronger wi-fi connectivity, and better cameras, displays, and speakers. 
  • Late model iPads also have better mobile data options like LTE and 4G.
  • iPads connect to the Double Robot over Bluetooth. 
  • iPads and Doubles have completely different batteries. Neither component can charge the other. 
  • iPad Airs are smaller than their predecessors and require a special spacer to fit into the Double enclosure. I believe these are free if you ask for them. I don't believe a Double is compatible with iPad minis, iPod touches, or iPhones.



  • Newer iPads have better speakers. 
  • For loud environments, experiment with external sound devices. (Double officially recommends that you do not attach anything to your Double)
  • JamBoxes can be good. If you connect via Bluetooth (an iPad can connect to both the Double Robot and an audio device simultaneously), you may experience lower volume levels due to the noise cancellation feature. 
  • Hardwiring into a Jambox may result in louder audio, but may also result in feedback.



  • Beware of corporate firewalls. An LTE/4G iPad for both the Double and the operator is the safest route. 
  • Doubles require data connections of 1Mbit up and 1Mbit down PER ROBOT. 
  • Connecting via cellular connection is power intensive.



  • Double declares you can get an 8 hour day of "normal" usage. This means some moving around, but not driving non-stop. 
  • Double battery takes 2 hours to charge and is fully integrated so can't be swapped out
  • The iPad will probably conk out first if it's sending and receiving video non-stop over wireless for hours and hours. Mileage will vary here depending on connection signal strength and model of iPad.
  • Double top speed is about 1mph. Consider this when using for giant conference spaces. 
  • When the Double is 'standing up' (for interaction when people are standing) it's speed is much slower than when it is 'sitting down' (all the way lowered for sitting conversations)
  • If pick a Double up and put it back down, hold it for a second or two while it re-establishes its balance. Otherwise it will send itself and the iPad into a faceplant.



  • The app is free. You can test a lot of the app functionality, especially connectivity within a a specific space, without an actual Double Robot.


Price and Shipping

  • $2,499 - 20% discount when you buy 20 units. 
  • They ship via FedEx ground from California – 5 days to the east coast.
  • They produce Doubles in batches. It takes about 4 weeks to complete a batch, so if you call them and they don't have any inventory in stock you may have to wait as long as 5 weeks to get your robot.
  • They don't rent

We highly recommend them.

Want to work with a team that knows how to put robots to work at your office/conference? Check out the best in the business:



There are over 5,000 more collaboration articles on

Ideas for Personal Tech Interative Offices, Environments and More

Posted on by Brandon Klein

- Sound: The name tags could also include an app that using light from the camera to generate music consistent with the visual diversity

- Body measure devices: Give everyone a bracelet when they walk in and it tracks pulse, nervousness, attention and more... all displayed on an aggregate dashboard/giant screen
- Body movement devices: Breakout screens are controlled by another type of bracelet to integrate interactive content
- B-line phones/video: Like the White House red phone to other interesting folks (maybe that stopped in the 60s) - each breakout gets a phone/Skype to a have additional insight/challenge on a relevant topic

- Robots: Hey, why not have a couple as participants!

- Pay with a Tweet: Ideas that are liked and heard are easy for participants to tweet, track and reward others... all displayed in the space
- Fun: How can it just be a lot more fun than the other places?

- Video: Integrate the 'Live' broadcasts - ie interactive video incorporated into the space/real time feeds of the breakout group work to the world

- Lighting: Lights with sound dampeners built in. Lights that are huggable. They exist!  

- Tablet Name Tags: Each person gets a iPad-mini type device that hangs around their neck. It serves as a giant name tag when not in use, but when they tilt it horizontal, it provides direct access to the interactive digital tools they could use during their time in the workspace (the interactive tools are almost limitless now and a common device would enable true digital collaboration in the space)
- Personalized everything: We know everyone's name via registration, and there are lots of ways this could be used. Person to person introductions. Concierge breakout attendance. Perspective notes taking during Insights. Point of view feedback zones. Leading Pioneer vs. Builder approaches to solutions.
- Sociometric badges: - necklaces participants wear that record tone of voice, topics, who they are talking to and more. This enables real time design based on how well interactions between participants is going!


Best Collaboration Articles June/July 2013

Posted on by Brandon Klein

A comprehensive list of the latest trends and research about collaboration in the workplace compliments of Collaboration Inc @collabinc  

The collaborative team player 
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller
Today, the social implications of a multi-generational workforce joining with the informational implications of new technology make collaboration a priority in many organizations. Collaborations, partnerships, alliances are the mark of great organizations and communities—the indispensable arsenal of the organization and communities of the future...

Creative thinkers don’t like the word “brainstorming” anymore.
It relies on a thunderstorm metaphor--a sudden swirl of energy that gets everybody’s attention for a moment, then passes by, dissipates, and leaves nothing behind.
And that describes a good brainstorming session.
“I think in most brainstorms, there’s actually very little brain and hardly any storm,” says Keith Yamashita, principle at SY Partners, a transformation consulting firm. “Brainstorming is really the art of thinking--collaboratively. And thinking takes work. It takes preparation. And it takes a different view.”
"A study of the teams that produced Broadway musicals from 1945 to 1989 yielded an interesting insight: If the bulk of the team had connections and a fluency with each other, the show’s probability of success shot up."

Don’t Neglect Your Power To Bring People Together
Out of the many ways that managers get things done, one of the most underused is what I call “convening authority”: the ability to bring people together to share information, build alignment, or solve problems. To explain, let me share a quick example, in two acts...

Turn It Up: How the Right Amount of Ambient Noise Increases Creativity
Finding the right space to do creative work can be difficult. Inside the office, there are constant interruptions, last-minute meetings, and an often unbearable amount of noise. On the other hand, locking yourself away in quiet isolation can sometimes be just as counterproductive (not to mention boring). For most creatives there is a “Goldilocks” zone of just the right amount of noise, but not too much. 

Use Catalytic Questioning to Solve Significant Problems
For almost twenty years, I have refined a systematic approach to uncovering the right questions—those that start to unlock entirely different solutions and perspectives—with hundreds of teams around the world, from the C-suite to the shop floor. The method, which I now call Catalytic Questioning, incorporates five simple, unconventional steps to help change our questions — and creatively solve significant problems both in our personal and professional lives...

Calling all Introverts! Why You’re Wired to Collaborate
Extroverts get too much credit. There, I’ve said it. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by “credit”, but extroverts tend to stand out through their natural behavior. Extroverted leaders glide into rooms and engage instantly in the most important conversations. What makes collaboration so challenging for many organizations is the nature of the work:  teams come together, solve a problem and move on to a new challenge. Extroverts by nature fit easily into these stimulating situations where human-to-human interaction and engagement are the keys to success. 

Innovation Needs a Lingua Franca
Shortly after my 21st birthday, I went on hiatus from university, and lived in Uruguay for a year as a missionary. Because I had studied Spanish in school, I thought I knew Spanish. It turns out I didn't; I could say little, understand less. After eight months, when I was assigned to a town in the interior of Uruguay where no one spoke English, I finally learned to speak, understand, and even think in Spanish. I had to, to survive. In retrospect, as I look to implement disruptive ideas there are several lessons to be extracted from my experience of "do or die" language immersion...

A practical guide to cross-sector collaboration
Collaborating can be frustrating but it isn't about sublimating your organisation's goals – it's about discovering common ground. Our most ambitious sustainability goals rely on us collaborating, and finding people who share our aims is only the start. System-shifting collaboration that bridges gulfs through simultaneous action by organisations with seemingly conflicting interests depends on three essentials: shared (or at least, complementary) goals, the right mix of players, and really good working relationships...

Your business has people on three continents. How do you keep them connected, and ready to collaborate?
Anat Binur, Co-Founder of Middle East Education through Technology (MEET), faces this problem every day. Since 2004, the MIT-staffed non-profit has been connecting Israeli and Palestinian high school students, in an effort to find, unite, and empower youth in an otherwise hostile situation. Binur, based in Silicon Valley, works with a team stretching from California, to the East coast of America, to the Middle East, and into Europe. "MEET is a global organization," she says. "One of the challenges is creating both a culture and a collaboration and actually getting things done." To effectively communicate with her team, Binur is no stranger to tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, but says technology still doesn't provide the genuine connection that instills trust among team members...

10 Rules to Make Any Meeting 9,000% Better
10 pictures that say it all.

8 Best Apps for Team Collaboration
Click to view descriptions.



Three Collaboration Improvements: Harnessing Collective Intelligence & Walking in the Park

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Two statistically proven methods to improve the performance and collaboration of your team:

1- Collective intelligence of the group is significantly correlated with the percentage of women in the group. Conclusion: invite more women

2- Walking amongst nature or even looking at nature pictures can improve work (test scores) 20% . Conclusion: take breaks outside, not looking down at your dumb phone

3- Doodle. Draw. Improve your memory by 30%. Conclusion: Draw, get others to draw your discussions.  

* And here are some more brain/collaboration exercises to quickly improve!  

Collaboration Exercises: Move to the Left, Clap to the Right

Posted on by Brandon Klein

PASS THE CLAP - Simple energizing exercise. 

1- Everyone stand in a circle

2- You essentially pass one clap to the next person

3- After people go around the first time slowly, try it again the other direction

4- Then speed things up

5- Finally introduce clapping both directions- aka - as one clapis being passed around - as it reaches the midpoint, start one the other direction. 

BtoF&LtoR: Simple energizing exercise to move around the room: 

One of the simplest exercises around. After a group has been sitting for a while- simply ask the folks on the right side of the room to move to the left and the left to the right. Front to back, back to front. Have each person introduce themselves to one person they don't know along the way! 


Pick the people who would make up your Mt. Rushmore and explain why! 


FINALLY: Turn to your neighbors and give them a great warm smile  

Collaboration & Sustainability

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Incorporating sustainability into collaborative events should almost be mandated! My recent personal commitment was by purchasing an electric car to get to and from all my events. Here are some great links to learn more and use during collaborative learning exercises:

Efficiency Exercises

Posted on by Brandon Klein

What happens when you put 20+ minds to work virtually on generating proven exercises?


A 2 - 3 hour module to serve as the opening of a one and a half day session dealing with efficiency - as in, doing more with less. There will be about a dozen engineers who have enjoyed collaborative modules and like working with their hands. 

What ideas come to your mind? What kinds of modules, activities or discussions have you seen work well to address "efficiency" or similar?

Proposed by Todd Johnson @lumpysnake



Inventions: The quintessential guide compliments of Robin Brooking @rsbrooking


One twist on inventions that we did in an "efficiency" session years ago involved creating an audit score-sheet. We didn't tell them about it up front, though the initial assignment did have some peripheral language about being efficient in the use of materials available. I think it may have been after the first round, when teams merged, we introduced the audit score-sheet concept. I believe we only merged two teams, which made success more likely. Their goal was to integrate both inventions in the most efficient manner while still achieving their objectives.


Have teams build a "house of cards game" like thing and have other teams find out how many cards they can delete without the structure falling down.  What's a good design? When is redundancy a good thing?  When does efficient stop being efficient? Compliments of Gail Taylor @sombutnotal


Peanut butter sandwich module - gets at same things that Gail mentions in a different way, as well as issues of communication and understanding  - and very fun/funny as well. Compliments of Sita Magnuson @tinywindow
Also check out the PB&J step by step guide. Compliments of Jonah Evans @jonahevans


Marshmallow-Challenge: Of course check out the original site. And check out one teams learnings from delivering it the first time. Compliments of Christoph Kellner


Haiku: You could have two teams. One you would give examples of haiku poetry. Another you would give art books of drawings by artists like Matisse, cave paintings, etc. After studying how these styles work, they would then create haiku or drawings that capture the essence of something with economy of strokes. Compliments of Bill Burck @billburck


Anything: Just use the Pomodoro Technique:


Cups & Straws: Mostly prototyping, but can def have an efficiency edge. Compliments of Brandon Klein @collaborateking


Conduct a Pre-Mortem to see what works and doesn't work when making things efficient. 


Limitations TED Talk:  How limitations can cause us to become limitless... So how about a physical challenge of sorts (building something) with artificial limitations imposed upon individuals to break either the collaborative process or the physicality of building something? Compliments of David Christie @christie_david


Share learnings/feedback/success/failure in the comments:

Icebreakers Continued

Posted on by Brandon Klein

So many icebreakers out there... when to apply what? What is relevant to the content? What sets the right pattern?


- Rain Maker Icebreaker: 1 finger clap until everyone is loud and then stop when feels right! 3 to 300 people.

- Snap Breaker. Hold hands up together in a circle. All snap together without saying a word. Helps to move elbows from 90 degrees to close to zero before snapping. 3 to 30 people

- Rock, Paper, Scissors Competition. Enough said. 4 to 4,000 people. Try this on all different sized groups. Works ~75% of the time.

- Sound for the Source. Each small group that has a topic has to represent that topic by a noise. In most collaborations, folks are trying to work together in harmony. Experiment with teams all making the noise at the same time versus in choreographer ways.

- Personal Elephant Skills: Give each person a blank piece of paper. Give everyone 60 seconds to "tear out an elephant" with their hands behind their backs. Have everyone hold them up and show off their skills. Then turn it serious and have them write down what the real elephant in the room preventing them from getting their work/project/strategy/transformation etc. done! Post them around the office.

- Culture Alphabet: Each person in the room gets a letter and they have to make sentences together in explain the corporate, personal or other culture that needs to be brought forward for the group to succeed.

- Snowflake: Give each person a piece of paper. Ask them to close their eyes. Tell them to fold the paper in half and tear off the upper right corner. Fold in half again and tear the upper left corner. Fold in half again and tear the lower left. Open the snowflake and see what people created all following the exact same instructions.

- CCC Common Characteristics Curation: Put people together in small groups based on a some common characteristic between the people in the group. Only the facilitator knows what that characteristic is, they do not. Their goal is to determine what it is that they all have in common. Almost instantly they develop a better understanding of each other.

- Bingo: Have project or personal information listed on a bingo card (e.g., someone who is afraid of snakes, or the sharepoint project guru, or first person to hit the 'like' button on Facebook or the content expert in XYZ), and have them go around and get names to fill in the boxes. Not the most uplifting exercise, but with a prize and its commonality, it gets the job done.

- 6 Word Memoir: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” by Hemingway. Hard to top, but asking participants to write either a memoir, experience, mission and more can really open minds. For inspiration, check out some others...

- Idea generation/icebreaking generation software: Put it live on the screen and try it out!

Applying Flipped Education in Collaborations

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Flipped Education is gaining ground. It's application goes far beyond the classroom. Almost all business interactions are based on the ancient way of lecturing... boss, sales person, peer, doesn't matter, they think straight up talking or presenting is the best way to inform those around them. Time and again, it is the wrong way. What can you do to change it?

1- Don't introduce your topic and details. Pass out the document you were going to present and have small groups discuss what they think about it first. Then share and discuss your version. Make yourself sound smarter by using some of John Kotter's language and forming small groups of 3 or 4.

2- Chat rooms - classic education rounds instead of lectures. But don't have a presenter present their topic. Have the participants engage with the visuals. Then discuss.

3- Jeopardy - online or use paper to cover up the answer on a board... doesn't matter. It forces groups to think about solutions before the answers. Retention of information is more than doubled.

4- TED talks - choose the best ones for your topic and have small teams watch and analyze the video. Better than most articles on a subject and MUCH better that you could present about the topic! BONUS. Use the TED online education tool - TED-ED to further enhance participants/students learnings. 

5- Business book summaries. Get the books or the "Cliff Notes" for relevant books and let the class learn from the best. Apply the thoughts to your objectives. Easy and incredibly effective because no one has time to read all those books!

So many more... more options in the coming months.

Introducing Leaders

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Why not try a different way to introduce your leaders...

(1) Give them 6 - 12 funny giant thought bubbles (on foam board with a pre-scribed statement or thought) and 15 seconds to decide who gets each one and then each of the four leaders holds up his/her quote at the same time and pose on stage for a photo. This gives the participants the opportunity to see what they are "saying or thinking."  Obviously, the tone would be fun but not as sarcastic.

(2) Quick improv/theater game where they tell a story…you could throw them a starter statement…"once upon a time there was a…" Each person in the line-up adds a word until the story ends. This could be funny and show how the leaders can work together and finish each others thoughts….

Collaborate and Get Free Plane Tickets - or First Class Upgrades

Posted on by Brandon Klein

We are re-launching the collaborative flying rewards as a game. You contribute to collaboration king for greater learning and inspiring a better way to work... you get free tickets anywhere in the world or first class upgrades. All it takes is an email with an idea, a link... and you can contribute directly as well.

Parenting Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Perhaps the highest form of collaborating...

Notes from Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky:

Focus on seven, 'essential' life skills that every child needs and how to go about providing the foundations/opportunities for your child to uncover, develop and deepen these skills. 

Focus and Self Control:
- Just as important as IQ
- Executive functions tap your ability to use what you already know, to be creative with it, to problem solve with it - related to fluid intelligence which requires reasoning and using information
- Cognitive flexibility: flexibly to switch perspectives (a child will exhibit in pretend play when someone comes along and changes the script) and flexibly adjust to changed demands or priorities. 
- Working memory: holding information in your mind while you're working with/updating it (THINK SCRIBING! - not sure you can teach that so young!) 
a - relating one idea to another
b - relating what you're reading now to what you just read
c - relating what you're learning now to what you learned earlier
**critical for making sense of anything that unfolds over time

KEY: Must weave these skills into everyday activities . Be well rested and take breaks (everyone!) Practice delayed gratification. Do not take away inbord imagination or passion to learn and explore. If only we could convince other adults to do this! 

Read More

Collaborating in Small, Occaionally Collaborating Team (not business tasks!)

Posted on by Brandon Klein

There are so many collaboration tools for businesses that require logins and continuous communication and tasks and status updates... but there are countless  needs for collaboration amongst groups who share similar interests, but don't want to be at the end of never ending email back and forth conversations. Or just another site to have to visit.  

So why not take advantage of some of the latest friend or private social networking apps. They are simple and very easy to turn Push Notifications OFF!

Kibits - designed for distributed teams, it is a very simple way to communicate around topics at your own pace

Groupme - designed more as a consumer tool, it is very easy to use it in topic orientated distributed teams 

Everyme - people who don't have the app don't need to get it to reply. Works similar to Groupme

Groups - white label, customizable, social - with tons of features to integrate private collaboration across disparate groups. More difficult and targeted towards a different market, but very workable nonetheless 

But you can always do:

Google Groups - chances are that you are already on one of these email chains that can go on forever! 

LinkedIn Group - certainly the safest way to go. Public or private. Huge benefit for everyone to be connected on LinkedIn which none of the other options offer 

Private Facebook - Facebook is the toughest for businesses and business people to accept using even though it is easily one of the best ways 

Twitter - Hashtags (#) - why not just make it public! 

Twitter - There are also lots of apps available that can start private twitter conversations

GroupTweet- or make it more interesting by letting everyone publish from the same twitter account

And then there are the big players in the market that focus more on task and project management, but could be equally valuable and at least worth considering: Podio - A small take-over by Citrix - everyone can log in with their same email to decide what and how to access. Yammer - A hug microsoft play now. Private network for your company. 


Here is an exercise/module you can run:

Divide the group into "Kotter Groups" to test out the different ways of communicating going forward. Have them discuss what has and hasn't worked in the past and what the objectives for this group continually collaborating in the future. 

Introduce an app or tool (from list above or others) - 1 per Kotter Group - and have them test it out. What do they like? Not like? How can its function be adapted? 

Each team pitches why the entire group should use it. At the end of the 2 minute pitches, have the group discuss and ask final questions.

Vote. Allow each individual person to vote. 

If the groups intends to move forward, time should be dedicated to everyone simulating a virtual discussion. The room should be comletely silent except for typing fingers for their first test. The group than can discuss best practices or guiding principles for their communication going forward.

Check out other collaboration exercises you can run yourself.

Simple CRM Collaboration Tools as You Grow Your Business

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Teams have to collaborate on where they make their money... so what are a few collaboration tools that can help make you more successful? 

Is your focus crm and sales'y? 

Tinderbox  - manage business proposals and communications with Salesforce and Google Apps 

Crush Path - customer-facing sales platform that unifies the sales experience from lead to close and beyond.

Base - sales and CRM built together as simply as possible 

Stride - by far the easiest way to track, manage, and collaborate on new business with anyone you work with

Or real simple CRM in your gmail:

Streak -  manage all your customers from right within Gmail 

Yes Ware - within Gmail - tracking, templates, crm and more 

Insightly  - CRM with project management while integrating many of your apps 

Project/task management focus: 

But often, the question comes down to what you already have and therefore need to integrate with. AND  - how simple of a tool do you need to deploy so that people actually use it. There are far too many collaboration tools out there that no one will ever use! 

Team Box - haha "one tool to rule them all" not totally true, but they are easily one of the best at it

Podio - a full social work platform - with easily the best iPad app - but they were bought by Citrix - so be careful 

Work Etc. - much of the above, and they try to do billing and more to have a fully integrated business offering  

And why not go more social with your CRM? (arguably the future, but still a little clunky) 

Nimble - socially manage contacts, communication and sales in one place 

Batchbook - integrate your contacts, email lists and more 

And finally - google is coming out with a new product to keep sales stuff together:

Google Coordinate 

The default for most small businesses - i.e. the biggest player before you go up to salesforce and the other unfriendly foes is with Basecamp and HighriseHQ.