Document Behaviors

A version of this post originally appeared in my old blog: KM Space.

I have been focusing a lot of attention on the behaviors towards documents. After all, a wiki page is just another type of document. When producing documents, I have noted five types of behaviors: collaborative, accretive, iterative, competitive and adversarial.

With collaborative behavior, there are multiple authors each with free reign to add content and edit existing content in a document, and they do so.

With accretive behavior, authors add content, but rarely edit or update the existing content. Accretive behavior is seen more often in email than documents. Each response is added on top of the existing string of information with no one synthesizing the information in a coherent manner. I have seen this in wikis as well where people will add content but not edit others content.

With iterative behavior, existing content is copied to a new document. The document stands on its own as a separate instance of content. The accretive behavior is distinguished from the iterative behavior by the grouping of similar content together. With accretive behavior the content is being added to the same document, effectively editing the document. With iterative behavior, the person creates a new document rather than adding to an existing document.

With competitive document behavior, there is a single author who seeks comments and edits to the document as a way to improve the content. However, interim drafts and thoughts are kept from the commenters. The transmission of the content to a client or a more senior person inside the firm will result in a competitive behavior.

Adversarial behavior is where the authors are actually competing for changes to the content for their own benefit. Although there may be a common goal, the parties may be seeking different paths to that goal or even have different definitions of the goal.

Collaborative, accretive and iterative content production are largely internal behaviors. Competitive and adversarial are largely external document behaviors. Of course, a document may end up with any or all of these behaviors during its lifecycle.

I decided to re-post and update this based on Jordan Furlong’s The three types of collaboration on Law 21. Jordan set up three types of lawyer collaboration lawyer-to-lawyer, lawyer-to-client, and client-to-client. Read his post and let us know how you think we can mesh these two concepts together.

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