Social Media Collaboration is Shaking Up How Employees Engage with Each Other
The McKinsey Quarterly has released it top online articles for 2013’s first quarter, and four of the ten focus on interpersonal skill development. This confirms once again that senior executives are focusing on better engaging their human assets as a profitable area for investment.
Let’s take a quick look at the top-rated article that is focused on human asset management. It argues that old-fashioned hierarchical oversight and control must be replaced by a lighter, more trusting leadership style.
Wikis, jams and blogs make collaboration more productive
The explosion of social media tools that are available within an organization to foster and manage collaboration has started to shake up management control of knowledge, and challenges the assumptions that underpin past collaborative practices, according to Don Tapscott, a professor at the University of Toronto.
“Wikis, blogs, microblogging, ideation tools, jams (real-time online collaboration sessions), next-generation project management, what I call collaborative decision management: These are social tools for decision making. These are the new operating systems for the 21st-century enterprise in the sense that these are the platforms upon which talent—you can think of talent as the app—works, and performs, and creates capability.”
Two of our own Bovo-Tighe clients, the City of Palo Alto and Salesforce.com, have teamed up to create this sort of internal collaboration tool using the Salesforce Chatter service. (You can also find a press release here.)
Tapscott echoes this example when he talks about replacing e-mail with wikis and other collaborative tools that allow updates to be posted once centrally and found by all participants the next time they check in. The key here: The employees must be enabled as champions of knowledge and idea creation and execution. Oversight is necessarily less direct and harder to achieve. What is needed? UNSHAKABLE TRUST in the talent and motivations of your employees to use the tools productively and make progress using their own initiative, and those of their peers.
Constructively, intra-company social tools for project management also improve transparency about who is doing what work! So, while oversight is harder, tracking results can be easier, and corrective action quicker to occur. Employees will respond to this greater responsibility with greater personal accountability if encouraged and sustained in their efforts by their leaders.
Finally, we love this example from Tapscott about how executive thinking must change in this 21st Century world:
“Knowledge management has failed. We had this view that knowledge is a finite asset, it’s inside the boundaries of companies, and you manage it by containerizing it…And this was, of course, illusory, because knowledge is an infinite resource. The most important knowledge is not inside the boundaries of a company. You don’t achieve it through containerization, you achieve it through collaboration.”
Controlling knowledge cannot be your goal. Seeking it must be, and you must trust your employees to find it and share it with everyone through all the new collaborative tools. The endless search for knowledge (our Pursuit of Truth philosophy) is the mindset we teach our clients.
How is the pursuit of truth going in your organization? What stories can you share about it?