Social computing in knowledge-intensive workplaces

Ross Dawson discusses a Gartner report on social software, looking at some particular forecasts for the next three to five years out:

20% of businesses using social media instead of e-mail by 2014

50% of businesses using activity streams, such as micro-blogging, by 2012

20% of businesses will use social network analysis by 2015

70-95% of IT dominated social media initiatives will fail through to 2012

I’ve highlighted the last point because it’s time to look at social media as a connecting force in the enterprise. Here are some notes from a Twitter conversation with Treena Gravatt and Dennis Callahan yesterday:

Harold: RT @ecollab The Real Secret to Social Learning Success in 2010 by @LearningPutty

Treena: @hjarche That post made so much sense – I hadn’t seen it framed so clearly before but it makes utter sense & I agree with you. So many parallels

Harold: @tgrevatt I think the training department of the future will be part of marketing (already is at Intuit)

Harold: @tgrevatt I’ve been watching marketing & training moving closer, just as work & learning get integrated in the networked workplace

Dennis: @hjarche – re: marketing & training moving closer. Interesting – what’s the connection? I haven’t seen this trend.

Harold: @denniscallahan when you learn with & from your customers, learning & marketing are the same

Treena: <- nicely put Harold!

Dennis: <good connection>

The lines are blurring between marketing and training just as they are between learning and working. The connectivity enabled by social computing gives us an opportunity to identify overlapping areas and redundancies in organizational human performance support.  A unified support function, focused on really serving workers and helping them grow, could significantly reduce the 77% of CLO Magazine survey respondents who feel that people in their organization are not growing fast enough to keep up with the business.

Every department in the enterprise is part of the problem:

IT: for locking down computers and treating all employees like children, closing off a wealth of information, knowledge and connections outside the artificial firewall.

Communications: for forcing employees to use approved messages that do not even sound human.

Training: for separating learning from work.

HR: for forcing people into standardized  jobs and competency models that do not reflect the person.

It’s time for all departments to become part of the solution.

We’ve been discussing the blurring of lines between traditional organizational departments at the Internet Time Alliance and the general consensus is that any organizational change, especially using social computing, needs to look at the whole of the organization and not just the parts. Organizational culture, or its DNA, is an emergent property of the various components working, hopefully, in concert. Enabling only one department to initiate the change to a more cooperative and networked organization, may be a recipe for failure (70-95% of the time).

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