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Social Media Best Practice #3

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As part of the other systematic’s (Systematic Viewpoints” series on social media:

Best practice #3: Collaboration requires a balance of freedom and governance to thrive. ((Systematic Viewpoints, September 11, 2007. “Social media in the enterprise – best practice #3.”))

In the post, he uses a Sharepoint example where “employees had been given broad access to Sharepoint. Folks rushed out and set up their own spaces, and now nobody collaborates across them. As a result information and knowledge is more hidden than it was before ‘collaboration’ became broadly available.”

There are two points here. First, employees are quite excited to collaborate and find ways to distribute their knowledge. In general, people are eager to get the word out for the great work they are doing. This assumes two things: 1) there are of course people and silos that are very secretive for various reasons, and 2) people are engaged with their work and do indeed think it’s great work.

The second point however, is that given their own means, collaborative efforts without a good process to coordinate all the energies will result in failure. We call this governance, and more than enough has been written about the topic. However, it’s worth pointing out in the context of the specific example. When we talk about ways to collaborate in a Web 2.0 environment, we say that governance is critical. But too many people think about Web 2.0 governance as applied to wiki’s, blogs, etc. However, very many organizations have deployed the Sharepoint technology without realizing that the collaborative possibilities are just as great and the need for governance is as well.

As the other systematic points out: the balance between freedom and governance is critical. Employees will collaborate on their own, given the right tools. But the maintenance and health of that collaboration takes work, and there is a fine line between governing the process and stifling collaboration.

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2 responses to “Social Media Best Practice #3”

  1. […] time to step back and b/bbLevin/bD (D), 0, 0, 0, 96, 0, 188. bLevin/bD (bDan/b), 0, 0, 0, 2, 0, … Social Media Best Practice #3 As part of the other systematic’s (Systematic Viewpoints” series […]

  2. Chuck Allen Avatar

    > balance of freedom and governance

    This is a good point. As vendors start to bolt on social-networking on to everything I think there will be mistakes or unmet expectations. When it comes down to it, productive collaboration is a close-tie exercise. Social networking is all about leveraging loose ties — the people who know the people you know. Social networking does make sense in collaboration (A way to advertise your project, a way to identify those interested and able to assist, a way to find expertise). However, people shouldn’t confuse the loose-tie stuff with the close-tie stuff. Open source projects are an interesting example. People might think of these the epitome of loose-tie collaboration. They are and they aren’t. If you take a look at open source core-contributors, they may not talk on the phone (or talk often), they may have never have met each other in person, but they likely know each other quite well – in terms of expertise, preferences, coding style, strengths and weaknesses, etc. In an open source project, a lot rests on the project manager as “gatekeeper” in deciding whom and what is brought into the core. This is what I take “governance” as getting at – ways of bringing the loose-tie stuff into the close-tie area where the most productive collaboration takes place. I think the solution vendors that figure out how to do the governance piece elegantly really will deliver a lot of value.