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Tag: Enterprise 2.0

You Are Your Organization’s Chief Collaboration Officer

There have been a couple of interesting blog posts about organizational collaboration leadership penned recently by respected, influential thinkers. Last week, Morten Hansen and Scott Tapp published Who Should Be Your Chief Collaboration Officer? on the Harvard Business Review site. Yesterday, Dion Hinchcliffe posted Who should be in charge of Enterprise 2.0? on Enterprise Irregulars.

It is logical that the question of the proper seat of ownership for enterprise collaboration efforts is being raised frequently at this moment. Many organizations are starting the process of rationalizing numerous, small collaboration projects supported by enterprise social software. Those social pilots not only need to be reconciled with each other, but with legacy collaboration efforts as well. That effort requires leadership and accountability.

Both of the posts cited above – as well as the comments made on them – add valuable ideas to the debate about who should be responsible for stimulating and guiding collaboration efforts within organizations. However, both discussions miss a critical conclusion, which I will make below. First, allow me to share my thoughts on the leadership models suggested in the posts and comments.

While it is critical to have collaboration leadership articulated and demonstrated at the senior executive level, the responsibility for enterprise collaboration cannot rest on one person, especially one who is already extremely busy and most likely does not have the nurturing and coaching skills needed for the job. Besides, any function that is so widely distributed as collaboration cannot be owned by one individual; organizations proved that long ago when they unsuccessfully appointed Chief Knowledge Officers.

Governance of enterprise collaboration can (and should) be provided by a Collaboration Board. That body can offer and prescribe tools, and establish and communicate policy, as well as good practices. However, they cannot compel others in the organization to collaborate more or better. Yes, Human Resources can measure and reward collaboration efforts of individuals, but they can only dangle the carrot; I have never seen an organization punish an employee for not collaborating when they are meeting other goals and objectives that are given higher value by the organization.

There is only one person (or many, depending on your perspective) for the job of actively collaborating – YOU! Ultimately, each individual in the organization is responsible for collaboration. He can be encouraged and incented to collaborate, but the will to work with others must come from the individual.

Collaboration in the enterprise is similar in this regard to knowledge management, where the notion of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) has been gaining acceptance. PKM advocates believe that having each member of the organization capture, share, and reuse knowledge, in ways that benefit them personally, is far more effective than corporate mandated knowledge management efforts, which generally produce benefits for the enterprise, but not the individuals of which it is comprised.

So it is with collaboration. If an individual does not see any direct benefit from working with others, they will not do so. Conversely, if every employee is empowered to collaborate and rewarded in ways that make their job easier, they will.

The Enterprise 2.0 movement has correctly emphasized the emergent nature of collaboration. Individuals must be given collaboration tools and guidance by the organization, but then must be trusted to work together to meet personal goals that roll-up into measures of organizational success. The only individual that can “own” collaboration is each of us.

Near-Time Announces Near-Time Connection for Mobile Collaboration

Near-Time announced the availability of Near-Time Connection, an extension of Near-Time’s collaboration and publishing capabilities for mobile devices and other Web platforms. Near-Time Connection packages the functionality of Near-Time into a Widget, providing a flexible way to access content and interact with users associated with Near-Time spaces from smart phones, blogs or personalized homepage portals like iGoogle. Near-Time Connection is free to Near-Time users. Near-Time Connection gives users an interactive platform that lets them stay plugged into their Near-Time community no matter how they choose to view their content. The authoring environment, similar to that of Near-Time’s desktop offerings, enables users to remain active in their Near-Time communities when on the road or using a homepage portal. Users can embed other Near-Time Widgets, tag content for better search capabilities, and follow comment summaries, threads and Near-Time picks.

The “2.0” Qualifier and A Reality Check

Last week’s FASTforward 07 event, sponsored by FAST Search, was a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in search and the state of our collective efforts to solve the knotty problems associated with finding information. (The escape to San Diego during an East Coast winter freeze was an added bonus.)

Much of the official program covered topics “2.0” — Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Search 2.0, Transformation 2.0, Back Office 2.0. Regular readers know that the Gilbane team generally approaches most things “2.0” with skepticism. In the case of its use as a qualifier for the Web, it’s not that we question the potential value of bringing greater participation to Web-based interactions. Rather, it’s that use of the term causes the needle on our hype-o-meter to zip into the red alert zone. This reaction is further aggravated by the trend towards appending “2.0” to other words, sometimes just to make what’s old seem new again. We note, without comment, that O’Reilly Media’s conference in May has been dubbed Where 2.0.

We listened carefully to the 2.0’s being tossed out like Mardi Gras coins at FASTforward last week. One voice that stood out as a great reality check is that of Andrew McAfee, associate professor at Harvard Business School. In his keynote talk, “Enterprise 2.0: The Next Disrupter,” he presented a definition of Enterprise 2.0:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

The important word in McAfee’s definition is emergent, which is not the same as emerging. McAfee also outlined the ground rules for an enterprise that can legitimately lay claim to the use of the 2.0 qualifier. Read the FASTforward entries on his blog for his own eloquent summary.

In addition to his talk on Enterprise 2.0, McAfee also participated in a lunch presentation on research conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit on executive awareness of Web 2.0 and in a limited-seating roundtable on 2.0 topics. Both are briefly described on his blog.
In short, McAfee’s work is recommended reading for anyone interested in separating 2.0 market hype from potential business value.

Another highlight of FASTforward for us was keynoter Chris Anderson on “The Long Tail” and the application of Long Tail theories to search and content life cycles. By pure happenstance, the Gilbane team shared a limo to the airport with Anderson. In his day job as editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, he and his staff are experiencing significant levels of frustration with the publishing process — specifically, getting content out of a leading professional publishing tool and into the web content management system. While we found his Long Tail talk interesting, the conversation in the limo reminded us that solving some basic business communication problems is still a challenge. It was a thought-provoking way to end the week.

For more on FASTforward ’07, check out our enterprise search blog.

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