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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
(H. L. Mencken)
Some times, change is valuable just for the sake of change – to avoid boredom, to discover something different, to keep challenging oneself. Change does not have to come from having a problem, even though that's what I teach my students when discussing organizational behaviour. Change adds spice to life.
It is pretty much in that spirit that, a few months ago, I approached Google applications: Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets, specifically. Well, that and the superb collaboration tools that they are, but I'll come back to that. In short, these tools offer 90% of the features of the Microsoft equivalents but, for most people and most applications that's more than 100% of what they need. And fixating on this 90% does not give credit to Google for all the features that were integrated in these tools and that are NOT available in the Microsoft suite. In the last few months, I have created reports using Google Docs; I have built all the pedagogical material for a new course using Google Slides; and I have designed pretty nifty spreadsheets for qualitative analysis in Google Sheets. And I love the portability of these tools: making a last minute change to a document from a remote location or checking data in a spreadsheet from my phone. There are several other Google tools that I don't mention because I have not experimented with them enough yet but all that means is that there is more change going forward!
A key benefit of using the Google tools has been in collaborative work. I co-chairing, with the superb Jennifer Birch-Jones, the organizing committee of the 2020 Canadian Evaluation Society conference and we have organized all the information management using Google tools. We have a central document (we call it a wiki because many people can contribute to it) that is a structured list of all documents organized by committee; it includes meeting minutes, to-do lists, decks, data bases, and other pieces of information that are produced, updated, formalized, etc. in the process of organizing this conference, including historical documents from earlier conference that inspire our work. Every volunteer has access to all this information (except where privacy kicks in) and can comment on any of these work products. I believe this creates an atmosphere of transparency that is important to maintain a tight group of volunteer contributors. It also means that we can benefit from everyone's views on any of the many topics we handle. This is real collaboration; it is enabled by the Google tools which were built from the ground up with consideration for access control and joint work.
To reach us:
General address : firstname.lastname@example.org
Benoît Gauthier : email@example.com, @BGauthierCEEQ
Tel. : +1 819 775-2620, Fax : (no more fax; sorry)
238 Fleming Road, Cantley, Québec J8V 3B4