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What can fidget spinners teach us about collaborative tools?

31st May 2017

I know what you’re thinking. How do fidget spinners and collaborative tools even belong in the same sentence? A fidget spinner is quite the opposite to collaborative tools – only one person can use a fidget spinner at a time. Zero collaboration.

However, hear me out.

The Fidget Spinner

I’ve read numerous social media posts and ads about these fidget spinners, but it was only last week when I was introduced to one in the flesh when one of my colleagues found her son’s spinner in her bag.

Curiousness got the better of me and I asked if could I see it.

I don’t know what I was expecting – but this wasn’t it! I had just assumed that a fidget spinner was a super high-tech toy, with buttons and motors and flashing lights.

But I was wrong – I couldn’t believe how simple it was!

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For those of you who haven’t witnessed one in real-life, you can read about the origins of the fidget spinner here, but as a quick synopsis, fidget spinners consist of a two or three-pronged design with a bearing in its centre circular pad. An individual holds the centre pad while the toy spins.

That’s literally it.

But these toys have gone global, with every kid (and most adults) enjoying the simplicity of this little gadget.

Which leads me back to my main point – what can fidget spinners teach us about collaboration tools?

Answer: They need to be simple.

User Adoption

When evaluating new collaborative tools, it’s important not to get distracted by a range of functions that don’t really serve you or your organisation’s needs, and instead focus on the outcomes you wish to receive. Whether that’s a more collaborative workforce, increased communication between employees in different locations, or simply sharing content between devices.
Some organisations will make costs and features the main focus when evaluating new technology (and they are important). But ease of use and potential user adoption are very often overlooked, or left as the least important factor to consider.

This is a very damaging trend, that typically results in wasted time, money, and resource.

New collaboration tools may never be accepted if employees find them difficult to use. Projects may be delayed, and employees may even oppose the tools altogether if they require extensive configuration or a confusing set of features. Complex tools often end up having a negative impact on the business objectives.

Collaboration tools should involve minimal training. Thirty minutes to an hour at most. They should be visual and intuitive. Employees should know straight away what to do, in order to carry out their tasks. Well-designed tools make it easy for employees to navigate around any features of technology.

This enhances user adoption.

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Final thoughts

As proven by the fidget spinner, even in this day and age of technology, gadgets, and solutions, everyone will always go back to simplicity.

This applies to everything: from the apps on your smartphone to the solutions in the workplace.

Next Steps

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