Jan 25, 2011

Enabling Participation: More Art Than Science (Collaborative Thinking)

Mike's follow-on post to social media adoption in the workplace. He offers some practical approaches to fostering adoption.

I've argued the degree to which an employee participates above and beyond what their job entails is a daily decision. There are times when we can direct people to communicate, share, and collaborate. We can basically conscript some level of participation based on an employee's role, nature of their work activities, and their expectation of getting something in return (e.g., a good review, being paid, keeping their job). However, as knowledge management strategists have learned long ago, there are limits to what we can command people to do - especially when it comes to what's in their heads, and asking them to volunteer in contexts such as a social network site.Understanding the psychology and sociology behind participation remains largely unknown within the enterprise.
Having personally been involved in delivering collaborative applications for over 20 years and been admonished as a "bad dog" by end user communities that hated it when I said the words "collaboration and sharing," I can say first hand that the way to adoption is a combination of Mike's suggestions. The combination of which depends greatly on the make-up of the company, its culture, its business, and its progressiveness.

I also think for IT there's the high-road lack-of-transparency path. If you've ever seen the IT Crowd you know the deep communication gap is between IT and the user community ("...you don't want to end up in the middle of invalid memory..."). In the end, as Mike points out in his previous post, productivity and technology is not about the technology you deploy or the productivity concept you're trying to improve, it's about getting people to change their habits and creating the net effect of collaboration, communication, social enterprise, fill in the blank. As IT providers we need to become less enamored by our amazingly fun jobs. Yes, for us the end is the technology but for users the end is getting their jobs done with the least hassle. Sometimes leaving out the "you're going to collaborate" or "let's do knowledge management" or "time to be a social enterprise" is your friend. I've found huge success to adoption when I roll up my sleeves and assist users in learning how to use the tools I provide to do their jobs. That goes from the highest to the lowest rankings in the organization.

Enabling Participation: More Art Than Science (Collaborative Thinking)

No comments: