CategoryCollaboration

Google Docs Could Change the Way You Work

I really want to believe that software including the word “doc” will cure all of my pains. In the case of Google Docs — often called Google Apps — I wouldn’t be far off.

Google Apps is a completely free offering that is a suite of several applications:

  • Google Drive (file storage, management and sharing)
  • Google Docs (similar to Microsoft Word)
  • Google Sheets (similar to MS Excel)
  • Google Slides (compare to MS PowerPoint)
  • Google Drawings (some features similar to PowerPoint)

If you notice a pattern, it’s because for many people Google Apps can just about replace Microsoft Office. Unless you need the powerful formatting features of MS Word or the sophisticated formulas of MS Excel, you might be able to avoid buying MS Office. And that would be a deal, because Google Apps are free.

(There is a paid version called Google Apps for Work that adds more useful features for $5 per user, per month. But you probably don’t need it.)

Google Docs offers quite a few features that will cure “pains”that often afflict office software users.

  • Simple interface
  • Collaboration with co-workers very easy
  • Available from any computer, any time
  • Automatic file saving to the cloud
  • Accessible and usable from your smartphone
  • Frequently updated with new features

For the entrepreneur this might just be tech nirvana.

Workplace Collaboration with Google Docs

The ability to work with others on the same document at the same time is pretty cool. Say you’re working together on a blog post or a new business proposal. You and your partner can be typing in the same document on two different computers — in the same room or across the planet — at the same time. You can even see what the other person is typing, while she is typing. (And you can annoy her by changing it while she’s typing.)

I call this “live drafting,” which I explained in detail here.

Get Started with Google Docs

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‘Live Drafting’ plus Google Docs Creates the Ultimate Team Collaboration Experience

(This post was reviewed for accuracy and relevancy on 7-5-15.)

My client was amazed.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he exclaimed to me recently, as we were working together to draft his responses to an important questionnaire. (As his consulting wordsmith, my role was not to create the responses, but to help him express his ideas in clear, accessible language.)

Google Docs plus Jonathan Lehrer's "live drafting" technique add up to effective brainstorming.

Google Docs plus Jonathan Lehrer’s “live drafting” technique add up to effective brainstorming.

The client was talking about my technique of “live drafting,” which I recently described (Use Google docs for live collaboration on documents).

Live Drafting is a brainstorming technique that uses a large screen to make  collaboration quicker and more effective for team members. Rather than relying on flipcharts or dry-erase boards, I connect my computer to a projector and write or edit language live on the screen while all the participants watch.

Live drafting with Google Docs

This client, a successful engineer and businessman, surely has been involved in brainstorming, but the revelation was how Google Docs improved the process.

The statement that I had created as a Google Docs document was projected from my PC onto the wall of his office. I showed him how to log into his Gmail account and open the link to the Google Doc I had just sent him.

In a moment, he was able to simultaneously edit what I was writing.

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‘Live Drafting’ on Large Screen Makes Collaboration Quicker, More Effective

“Oh no, not another Mission Statement meeting!”

How many times have we professionals heard such cries of anguish when faced with the prospect of updating their organization’s 10-year-old corporate mission to 21st-century language?

Whether it’s a mission statement, a proposed Web site content tree or a plan outline, they all involve collaboration among a roomful of people.

I’ve developed a process called “live drafting” that makes these sessions more bearable and maybe even productive.

Through live drafting, cantankerous co-workers needing to collaborate can quickly consolidate comments on the same page.

Materials needed:

1. Computer with any word-processing software.

2. Projector and screen (or Smartboard).

3. Facilitator who’s a good listener and wordsmith as well as a quick typist (yes, I’m available!).

Procedure:

Set up the computer to display the word-processing window on the screen for all to see. Beginning with the initial draft is quicker than a blank screen.

I find it easiest to facilitate the meeting and do the typing at the same type, but these jobs could be split between two people.

All eyes will be focused on the screen (as I said, everyone will be on the same page). As suggestions and comments are offered, edit the document. Remember, you’re an editor, not a court reporter. Rewrite while your colleagues talk. Participants either will say “oh, that’s a lot better than what I just said,” or, equally likely, “that’s not at all what I meant.” Your continued edits should be moving the group closer to consensus.

 (When the conversation gets off track, I’ll sometimes put a comment on the screen like “what time is lunch?” If I’m lucky, that gets a laugh and focus returns to the screen.)

By the end of the session, you’ll have a new draft that immediately can be emailed to all participants.

You can make the entire process even more collaborative by using Google Docs and allowing computer-equipped participants in the room – or across the world – to make changes simultaneously. Try doing that with pen and paper!

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