Collaborate with Confidence

Phil Cox /Tuesday, July 18, 2023


In May 2023, I had the opportunity to travel to Spain to participate in the OC Global Alliance (OCGA) bi-annual meetings.

Outreach Canada is one of 15 Mobilization Centers around the world that make up the OCGA. Altogether they represent more than 1200 missionaries having impact in over 100 countries. The purpose of the OCGA is to foster collaboration between the Mobilization Centers, so we can support and encourage each other in the work of spreading the Gospel.

As you can imagine, trying to build meaningful working relationships across different time zones, languages, cultures, and technology capabilities is not a simple task.

Officially, the OCGA uses Microsoft Teams as their technology platform for collaboration, but in practice, everyone had not experienced the same level of success with accessing, communicating, and sharing, using Teams. This resulted in a lack of confidence in the platform and an unwillingness to use the technology by some team members.

I was invited to the meeting in Spain to address these issues and help the representatives succeed at using the technology.

Photo Credit: Philip Cox from his trip to Spain

What is Collaboration? And Why is it Important?

Before addressing the technical issues of HOW they use this platform, I first wanted them revisit WHAT collaboration is and WHY it was crucial for them.

The roots of the OCGA stretch back over 70 years - long before smartphones, apps, the internet, computers or even telephones or electricity in some of the countries we serve. Yet those early missionaries were collaborating with the believers and Christian leaders in those remote locales. They travelled to villages and met with people. They shared resources. They encouraged and helped connect this group with that group and these leaders with those leaders. They built relationships focused on accomplishing the shared goal of spreading the Good News. 

Collaboration is about building and strengthening relationships, not just for the sake of making connections. Collaboration is about building relationships specifically to work together on common objectives.

At its core, collaboration is not a technical issue. It is a heart matter.

If the desire and the need to collaborate is strong enough, people will find a way to come together and make it happen, no matter what obstacles are in the way.

From that foundation the fundamentals of collaboration are simple enough. To collaborate we need to communicate. To communicate we need to be accessible and available; to have a common language; and to have a “safe/secure” environment. We need to be able to trust each other, which means we need to know:

  • who we are communicating with
  • how they are reacting to our communication
  • our communication is private or at least shared appropriately (privacy)
  • the content shared is dependable and trustworthy

Safe & Accessible Collaboration

After looking at the WHAT and the WHY of collaboration, we looked at how Microsoft Teams could provide that common language for the OCGA to communicate in a way that is accessible and secure.

ACCESSIBLE, because it is available to everyone within the OCGA, from anywhere in the world, anytime of day, on any device, and in all the languages our people commonly use.

SAFE (secure) because it verifies the identity of each user, protecting their privacy, encrypting their conversations and content, transparently showing who is sharing what material, and making redundant back-ups as it goes.

The Moment of Truth

Then the moment of truth.

Getting all the attendees to log into Teams to access the materials they would need for the conference. Fortunately, many were able to share they were already connected which encouraged the rest, so that the majority were able to connect during my session. There were a handful still having difficulties but within the next day or two everything was resolved.

People were uploading their presentations, sharing photos, and sending notifications. Collaborating with confidence … which allowed me a bit of time to relax in the warm waves of the Mediterranean Sea.

When Philip Cox was a kid, he wanted to be a doctor and then an architect and then a rock star! After many years working in the tech sector, Phil turned his knowledge and expertise towards helping the team at Outreach Canada harness the latest and most useful technologies as they serve the church in Canada and beyond. Phil is the Director of Technology Services at Outreach Canada. 



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