Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Social networkers unite!

Self organizing teams…a toolkit of social tools to help…an environment of collegiality never before seen in a “siloed” organization. Is this the brave, new world of work? Let’s hope so. Dale Arsenault has kindly provided a peek into the future, describing a scenario in which project managers can nimbly choose the appropriate tools to aid their projects’ chances of success. Collaboration happens, either in real time or asynchronously, but in any case it happens 24/7. Trying not to sound pessimistic however, how are we going to get there?

Now trying to be a “thought leader” means not constantly throwing roadblocks into what “could be,” but the question still nags me. Current and future needs as I hear them from others seem to indicate that web 2.0 tools aren’t the hurdle—the speedbumps are still basic change management. So maybe our current study on the intersection of KM and web 2.0 comes at a good time for me. It’ll allow me to get my head above the fray of “what is,” and spend more time on visualizing the future.

Actually, of all the web 2.0 apps, the one that holds the most interest to me personally (from a knowledge management perspective that is) is the personal page—the MySpace, Facebook type pages. I use neither of those popular apps, but I am on www.linkedin.com. [note: I’m not endorsing any app, I just happen to be on that one.] Even that is a bit of a chore for me however, as I don’t find myself anxiously awaiting the opportunity to update my profile, or to add some new, pithy comments into it.

So what makes the other sites so popular and what’s missing from the app I use? I think its fun. Yes, fun! Somehow the transition from “personal” to “professional” page takes the fun out of it. Go to any typical personal social page, and you’ll not only find regular updates by the page holder, but they’ll have “friends” that make quick comments—comments that indicate that others are actually reading what’s there. The implications of course, are huge if we can incorporate the personal page look and feel into our professional pages.

A person can list what books they’ve read and recommend, or their research interests, or talk about what others are talking about, or expose some of the tacit knowledge that they’ve accumulated over the years—all good stuff for an organization. No repository could ever even hope to be so rich in content as that provided willingly by the page holder. Let’s assume for a moment that what I’ve said above is true. Let’s also assume that an organization’s leadership understands the value and encourages such pages (they can be internal only—that’s not a show stopper). How do we introduce the fun factor into it so that people will be willing and excited about sharing their knowledge this way? Any success stories are greatly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jim.. I note your call.. or should I say "cry", for success stories. I think this will be a challenge for a while, as will be identifying true best practice companies for the APQC study on the topic.

"Fun".. I know what you're saying. In a business context, some people want fun. (My personal mission, adopted from a really good team of colleagues I was part of a while back, is "Do good work, have fun, make money.. in that order.) Some people call it "enjoyable".. some people call it other things. And of course, what is fun for some is not for others.

I suggest looking at it a bit differently. If we can agree that a manager's job in a knowledge environment is, in short form establishing direction, providing tools / resources, removing barriers, and getting the heck out of the way, then maybe focusing on removing barries is better to focus on.

A project team I know of brought a wiki tool into thir organization because available "approved" / enterprise tools were too difficult and cumbersome to use.

I was walking across the street to pick up a coffee, and saw a colleague pacing back and fourth outside the main doors, puffing on his cigarette in frustration. I asked him what was going on. He said he was working on this simple thing, but needed to validate something with an "expert" in the organization. He said something like "I've been working here for 15 years, and I have a pretty good idea of what's going on and who knows what.. I know someone here knows about this topic, but do you think I can find them? No! I've talked with a bunch of people and they can't point me in the right direction either!"

These are very telling examples - and I'm sure there are many more.

Perhaps adding value to the work people do is in fact removing barriers ... barriers to connecting with people, to bringing teams together and collaborating, to capturing what can/needs to be captured, to being made aware of and accessing quality internal and external content etc.

Anonymous said...

MySpace, FaceBook and other networks do work, I was not sure about linkedin, but after having a read here, probably i'll be updating my profile there.

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