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.