Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This week in links - week 44, 2009

In-house experts, with their specialized knowledge and skills, could be invaluable to both colleagues and managers. But often workers who could use their help in other departments and locations don't even know they exist.

Because of an inability to tap expertise, problems go unsolved, new ideas never get imagined, employees feel underutilized and underappreciated. These are things that no business can afford anytime—let alone in this tough economic climate

The answer, we think, is to use social-computing tools.

Activities and interactions that occur in blogs, wikis and social networks naturally provide the cues that are missing from current expertise-search systems. A search engine that mines internal blogs, for example, where workers post updates and field queries about their work, will help searchers judge for themselves who is an expert in a given field. Wiki sites, because they involve collaborative work, will suggest not only how much each contributor knows, but also how eager they are to share that knowledge and how well they work with others.

Tags and keywords, which are posted by employees and serve as flags for search engines, can reveal qualities in an expert that are far from transparent in any database or directory. And social networks can help employees use existing relationships to not only reach out to distant experts but also trust them more than they would complete strangers.
Enterprise collaboration tools will be primarily Web 2.0-based with four years, posing major problems for organisations as entrenched users cling onto old-style working methods, warned a Gartner survey.

Gartner recommended firms take a softly-softly approach to introducing change to reluctant users, explaining the business reasons for the switch and recognising which model suits which situation.
"Using technology to improve workforce collaboration" by James Manyika, Kara Sprague and Lareina Yee:
Knowledge workers fuel innovation and growth, yet the nature of knowledge work remains poorly understood—as do the ways to improve its effectiveness. The heart of what knowledge workers do on the job is collaborate, which in the broadest terms means they interact to solve problems, serve customers, engage with partners, and nurture new ideas. Technology and workflow processes support knowledge worker success and are increasingly sources of comparative differentiation. Those able to use new technologies to reshape how they work are finding significant productivity gains.

But most companies are only beginning to take these paths. That’s because, in many respects, raising the collaboration game differs from traditional ways of boosting productivity. In production and transaction work, technology use is often part of a broader campaign to reduce head counts and costs—steps that are familiar to most managers. In the collaboration setting, technology is used differently. It multiplies interactions and extends the reach of knowledge workers. That allows for the speedier product development found at P&G and improved partner and customer intimacy at Cisco. In general, this is new terrain for most managers.
When discussing E2.0, I often hear "Shouldn't we just implement these social tools and simply let business value "emerge"? My answer is NO, not if you want to maximize business value.

I am a strong believer that organizations, should focus and facilitate the use of these tools in order to maximize organizational benefits.

To drive value, I've often referred to the engagement factors and in this post I wanted to focus on one of the factors, "Motivation".

How do we address motivation? Do we adopt the "build it and they will come" approach? No. But what about Wikipedia? it seems like complete "self-organization" has made it successful. But consider that only 1% of the people who visit Wikipedia actually contribute content. That's alright with a population set of the world, but 1% of your company may not be enough and if you have specific objectives you may need to motivate others to participate.

So what then? Should we use traditional motivation tactics (i.e. Carrots & Sticks)? For example, should we give bigger monetary bonuses or incentives to those who leverage social computing technologies to solve problems or provide innovative solutions? The answer yet again is surprisingly, NO.

Fun, as a design principle shouldn't be overlooked as it impacts the application design from look and feel, through context, content and process. It also should be addressed when designing events leveraging social computing technologies.


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