Organisations are rushing to jump on board the web 2.0 bandwagon, which seem to offer a collection of affordable tools to collaborate and share knowledge. While many organisations are currently experimenting with social media tools, strong successes are still relatively rare.
Consider the following scenario: an organisation introduces collaboration by piloting a discussion forum. The topic chosen is ‘staff employment conditions’. There are few guidelines, no mediation and anonymous posts are allowed. It starts off encouragingly, but soon descends into a storm of personal attacks, with strong opinions expressed about an emotive topic. The organisation wonders what happened.
A review discovers that while the organisation is not large, it is made up of self-sufficient business units in several locations with little interaction between the teams. The organisational structure, the management style, and the physical layout of individual offices, do not encourage cross-organisational communications.
As a result, staff are unaware of who is in the organisation, what functions are performed, or what skills exist. Effectively the discussion forum has been an online exchange between strangers.
The existence of collaborative tools does not automatically imply that people will collaborate or collaborate effectively.
A culture of communication
It is a simple concept, but if people are not already communicating with each other, then there is little chance they will feel comfortable enough to share their knowledge online.
[CM Briefing 2009-03 by Amanda Broomhall, read the full article]