A Selection of 2009 Collaboration Posts

Summary:Here's a selection of links to posts I've written in 2009 which I feel are worth rereading...Extraordinary Collaboration Delusions and the Madness of Crowds...

Here's a selection of links to posts I've written in 2009 which I feel are worth rereading...

Extraordinary Collaboration Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

...Comparing the 'Idiocy of Crowds' and groupthink to the South Sea Bubble & Madoff financial speculation disasters. Collaboration isn't automatically the right thing to do.

...Groupthink leading to a wild west of wikis and shared drives are a major headache to sort out and diminish the enthusiasm for and effectiveness of future more well thought out collaboration initiatives....

When Internal Collaboration Is Bad for Your Company...

...Morten Hansen’s HBS piece hinged on the reality that ‘working across organizational boundaries can create tremendous value—or destroy it‘. There is currently a business and marketing fashion wave for collaboration as the miracle cure for all that ails business which isn’t helpful in differentiating good from bad ideas, and this piece helps clarify that problem.

I also posted a review of Morten's excellent book 'Collaboration', and here's a video discussion between us from my Open Enterprise 2009 project with Stowe Boyd.

Strategic Thinking before Operational Actions: The Enterprise 2.0 Tool Cargo Cult Problem

...Like any business decision, the problems ‘Enterprise 2.0′ is trying to solve should result in greater efficiency and profits, which justifies the investment of time and money. This is no different than thinking through an enterprise resource planning system for a business, its partners and customers.

The goal is not to speak mumbo jumbo buzz word language while blowing money on a user commune for freestyle project management by random participants, despite some of the more theoretical Enterprise 2.0 commentator’s cargo cultish ideas. The world of Twitter, the myriad ‘Software as a Service’ offerings from small vendors and so on are empty calories in and of themselves...

Fads vs Business Value: Knowledge Management & Enterprise 2.0

...Anyone with a computer and access to stock photos can put together a slide presentation and upload it to sites such as slideshare, and sometimes it seems like everyone and his brother is doing just that on social media, enterprise 2.0 and other 2.0-ish subjects.

The sheer volume of instructionally toned sets of slides,  earnestly explaining to the world how to change the world reminds me of similar proselytizing ten years ago at the height of the Knowledge Management movement...

Understanding Enterprise 2.0 Tolerances & Scale

...We’re at an interesting intersection in the collaboration world where projects both large and small tend to be discussed with the same terms. This can be very confusing to the lay person since it’s hard to know what sort of scale is being described.

Small and medium business needs are typically very different to ‘enterprise’, which in general business usage tends to refer to companies with over one hundred million in revenue. This can also be misleading however since many ‘enterprises’ are in fact federations of autonomous smaller business units...

Facebook - Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory?

...Imagine going into a stationery store and buying a Filofax personal organizer and then over time filling it with personal contacts info, photos and notes. You come home one night and it’s no longer on the coffee table by the phone, instead there’s a note from Filofax saying there’s a change of terms and conditions.

You call Filofax:  ‘Where’s my Address Book?’

“Oh we published it  online - just go to this url and you’ll see all your information”.

“Are you kidding me?!”

Facebook have changed their default security settings so everything I write on my account at that site is now available to everyone on the planet.

The Social Facebook Fiasco

Facebook is inexorably moving towards monetizing your social graph. This makes their product an open content management system - one that allows anyone online to rummage through your personal relationships, photos and musings and essentially an alternate internet. This is basically in the face of services like Twitter who are more focused on differentiation of your consciously living your life in the open and maintaining privacy elsewhere online… using services like Facebook (as it was before the latest change of terms).

AOL/Facebook in the Enterprise

...In 1994 America Online trailed Compuserve and Prodigy, a third subscription option in how you hooked your modem up to the internet to go cyber surfing. What propelled AOL to global dominance by the end of that decade was their proprietary ‘rainman’ platform, which enabled partners to build out their anchor stores in the massive online shopping and lifestyle mall AOL became...

...The AOL user experience and the ubiquitous CD rom mailers (decorating countless dorm rooms and burning man installations and serving as coffee mug coasters) is a distant memory now, but I believe what’s replaced it is Facebook...

Why Is Change So Hard for Some People (Especially Older Ones?)

...The ‘big five’ personality traits of extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness are all very much on display in people’s communication on micro blogging site Twitter & social networks such as Facebook regardless of age of participants it seems...

Collaboration Strategy Shortcomings? Whack the Community Manager

… Here’s a typical cliched historical scenario: executive retreat produces someone tasked with setting up a collaboration environment, who hands the concept off to an underling to execute. That person, already overburdened, in turn hands off to a team with some bandwidth to execute.

The underling’s underlings were never communicated the vision the execs were sold at their retreat and instead installed the easiest to get up and running wikis and other collaborative software they could find. This software is now sparsely populated with some lewd jokes and a few pictures of people’s pets.

Clock ticks, budget burns, execs stop by to see how the ‘adoption of a more evolved business culture’ is maturing. Underlings are in full defense mode and point to all the other great work they do in their day job. Execs emerge dissatisfied and their immediate underling duly punishes his underlings. Fast forward to today with execs emerging from this years retreat full of the promise of their chosen flavor of the month....

Jigsaw Pieces Can Be More Agile Than Platforms

...As businesses grow departments get larger budgets however, and it’s not uncommon in this era for enterprises with industrial strength ERP and compliance technology as their backbone to also use services such as Box at a departmental level, on the local budget’s credit card.

Because of this the battle for who the key connectors in the value chain are - the companies who are the central jigsaw pieces - is getting hotter, as value is demonstrated.

The enterprise mothership model - Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft - is under attack from well defined modular SaaS components....

The Security Conundrum

...Two analogies: One, you could argue that modern IT infrastructure, given the inherent weaknesses of the public internet, are often not dissimilar to Medieval fortification techniques.

Two: if someone puts their mind to attacking someone else, rather depressingly there is a myriad of ways they can achieve their goal, anytime and anywhere. this is also true of those who seek to gain access to your protected information...

Dark Internet Fundamentals

...Running in parallel to the internet crawled by Google and therefore fully searchable lies a far more vast - by some estimates five hundred times the size of the known internet - online space. Darknets accessible through services such as freenet.org are concealed from non users, while the deep web is the vast universe of hidden web sites and their associated databases and web services...

Interview with 'Us Now' collaboration film director

'Us Now' is a film that is likely to attract accusations of naivety: at its heart is the premise that trust can be enhanced by the human interconnectivity allowed by the net.

Weasels in the Woodwork

...Just as the big players in the enterprise space can afford to move last, it is often in upper middle management's interests to see which way the wind is blowing until the last possible minute before committing to a plan which ensures their success or survival.

This is a decades old reality which is the toughest nut of all to crack when designing and then getting uptake of collaboration practices to take root....

Poisonous Personalities at Work & Play

...Perhaps one of the reasons for the rise in popularity of social software is the freedom it gives people to fantasize and aggrandize their personal lives. Like holiday ‘round robin letters‘ to friends, Facebook and in some cases blogging can be an exercise in self reinvention, to put it nicely.

Bumper sticker philosophical proclamations, boasting and public navel gazing have colored many people’ s perception of Twitter as an outbound ego megaphone, whether experienced or imagined....

Collaborative Networks vs Social Networks

...the number one issue plaguing widespread adoption of broad Enterprise 2.0 strategy: piecemeal departmental use of collaboration tools, while useful parochially, do not create a meaningful information fabric that weaves the entire enterprise together...casual social life organization is very different to working together through deliverables to achieve results. It is this type of organization that justifies budgets…the apparently random chatter around sociable networks is not an attractive proposition in a business scenario on a number of levels...

The 'Social Media' Quality Problem: What a Racket

...For every appropriate usage of 'social media' by marketing practitioners there are dozens of clumsy amateurs cluttering the channel. Nothing new here: most advertising has historically been creatively terrible for a variety of reasons. The sad history of email marketing creativity should be a warning for 'social media marketing expert' wannabe's...

The Groundswell of Social Media Backlash

...There appears to be a fully fledged backlash against 'social media' marketing emerging, with commentary in both areas you'd expect and in places you might not...

Shock Horror 'Social Media': Who Will Save/Train the Children?

...This is an age old parenting concern: what IS this mysterious Rock ‘n’ Roll/Hip Hop/ Texting Language/Social Networking those crazy kids are doing?...

Online relationships: Quality vs quantity

...The web generation have been exposed to prodigious amounts of free content and are currently in the throes of adding friends and personal connections to their online identities and personas at an ever greater rate.

The impact this has had on organizing people to collaborate is not insignificant: many people have always known their browser window as a grazing device. They started out surfing around cyberspace, to use the quaint old language, and now they expect sophisticated functionality and intuitive, easy to use interfaces from web applications they may spend time measured in seconds on. Like Google, the profit incentive of these vendors is usually your exposure to advertising messages.

So what happens when ‘Facebook generation’ web browser users are asked to participate in collaboration networks inside companies in order to share structured and unstructured information in ‘Facebook style’ applications? Their learnt behavior can result in very superficial ‘flip through the TV channels looking for something interesting’ style usage...

eDiscovery Legal Minefield Migraines

...With compliance discovery typically averaging out at a million US dollars per legal case, the whole area of retrieving all digital dialog around a dispute is the time and money sink that stresses IT staff and slows line of business technology adoption.... email archiving, retrieval and packaging for corporate lawyers industry is huge - the legal profession is a bastion of the document and email culture. This is the way the legal profession has worked for hundreds of years from back office to day in court....

Re: Re: Winning the Battle but Losing the War

.....In most big companies duplicate (Re: Re: See attached version 4.7, do you have a copy of 4.2?) emails fly around, enterprise content management systems and shared drives fill up with more electronically stored information than those gray filing cabinets could ever contain, and walking around the cubes and asking questions is often the only way to join the information dots and get work done. Fragmented meetings fill the days, nights are spent catching up on email and voice mail.

Lurking in the background is the understaffed and harassed legal department, ever watchful for discovery and litigation crisis. Add in a few doses of rivalry and bad behavior heading south on the command and control management tree and you have the classic de facto western corporation....

Sorry, the Help Desk Doesn't Cover That.

...I’ve seen cases recently where teams of engineers have learnt new tricks and crafted environments that are a little like amateur plumbing. Imagine a building where suddenly there are dozens of people tapping into the pipes to run their water powered constructions, some of which may spring leaks, and you get an idea of how the non technical sometimes see some of the more ambitious offerings to the greater workforce...

Global Collaboration Competitive Success: Old Dogs, New Tricks & The Shift Index

...The ‘Glocal‘ digital infrastructure, with low barriers to entry and movement, is rapidly changing the world’s business playing field. Broadband ubiquity and a generation born into the internet as a utility are reaping huge changes on humanity, and yet archaic business practices endure in many large ‘to big to fail’ corporate entities.

A CEO recently said to me that the challenge going forward was finding strong honest leaders: hire ‘C’ grade C suite execs and you’ll quickly find a pyramid of submissive silo protecting followers more interested in infighting and sucking up to their superiors than thinking about how to make the company more competitive.

The challenge is how to broaden these sycophantic minds so they see the bigger picture and realize the knowledge island they are protecting is in fact a rapidly melting iceberg...

Burnout - the Dangers of Remote Work Forces

...The rapidly increasing prevalence of distributed workforces - you might be working from home or mostly on the road - can make demonstrating to those overseeing you the extent of your workload incredibly hard, and often even harder to resolve.

The result is burnout, and the impact of ‘always on’ work patterns in organizations of all sizes can ultimately have a significant negative effect on results.

It’s not just modern collaboration technology which is increasing the challenges of sharing tasks equally - unified and mobile communications and time zone shifts can have a devastating impact on morale in a new twist on an old problem...

Life In The Vast Plane...

...Why is it that laptops and the internet have been around for a generation and yet the infrastructure we live in still doesn’t support them? I’m talking primarily about travel. A vast portion of the working population are regularly on the move, particularly flying, for face to face meetings.  Companies like IBM have vast numbers of employees working remotely, travelling to convene at irregular intervals in buildings their employers now use primarily for meetings having sold off their cube farms.

This is the emergent way people work - collaboration with internet and mobile connectivity.

Given this accelerating reality, it’s bizarre to be in an airport and see business travelers scanning the scene hungrily - not for food, but for electrical sockets. Power for battery juice is practically fought over, with the familiar scene of the laptop users sitting huddled on the floor around the few electrical outlets in a pathetic encampment. Amazingly the same thing is true at many conference venues which you would have thought would have been designed with these users in mind by now...

Topics: Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Social Enterprise, Software

About

With extensive senior management practical experience in international enterprise collaboration, Oliver previously managed the Sony PlayStation 'WorldWide Studios' collaboration extranet, and has worked with the American Management Association, Sun, Docent/SumTotal Systems, Harvard Business School and McKinsey & Company on major initiativ... Full Bio

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