Nurturing a Culture of Exchange

Almost a year ago, a Dutch blogger (Joitske Hulsebosch) used a phrase in his blog that has stuck with me, and has proved to be quite useful. He wrote that the bigger challenge in a network or partnership is always to create a “culture of exchange” (See the blog at

His example was that some groups’ efforts to collaborate get hung up on selecting the right tool to use for their online interaction, as if that makes all the difference.

During a teleconference he suddenly became very “struck by the complete unimportance of selecting the right tool for online interaction. What’s really important is creating a culture of exchange.”

In practice, some groups choose lousy, not-quite-right tools — but that work for them anyway, because they are so intent on collaborating and exchanging ideas. The eagerness to collaborate triumphs over the poor environment.

Other groups use the best and fanciest of tools, but because they haven’t gotten to a place where they want to make “exchange” a regular occurrence in the network or partnership, they fail.

Hulsebosch’s conclusion: When the culture of working together online is very strong, the tool doesn’t really matter. What has been your experience where a “culture of exchange” has been successfully nurtured? What made the difference? (And don’t say it’s because of the tool!)