Tag Archives: emergence

You Are Your Organization’s Chief Collaboration Officer

I Want You!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.

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Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Interview

The holidays are a busy time, especially the last week of December. Many of us take vacation that week, so it highly possible that you missed an interview that was published on December 30th.

Mark Fidelman, VP of Sales at Mindtouch, asked me earlier in the month if I would be willing to be interviewed by him on the topic of Enterprise 2.0 adoption. I said ‘yes’, of course, and we proceeded to conduct the interview by email.

Mark asked a dozen questions, so he decided to publish the interview in two installments. Part 1 was published on Mark’s blog, Seek Omega, on December 30th. It has also been published on the MindTouch blog and on CloudAve. The second installment of the interview will also appear on those sites, most likely next week.

I am grateful to Mark for this opportunity to share my views on Enterprise 2.0. More importantly, I hope that these interviews provide you with the kind of insight that you need to make decisions and take action. Please leave questions an comments on any of the sites at which the interview was posted. Alternatively, you may contact me at by email or on Twitter for elaboration on, or clarification of, any of the statements that I made in the interview.

On a related note, I have proposed to present a session on the Emergent Adoption Model at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston this June. If you are interested in hearing more about Enterprise 2.0 adoption and plan to attend the event, please vote for my session proposal on the conference website (site registration required.) Thanks!

My Wish for the Enterprise 2.0 Community in 2010

The holidays are precious for the time that we spend with family and friends. At this time of the year, we remember what is most important to us — the people who make our lives better by loving and supporting us — and focus on interacting with them for some (but not enough) time.

In 2010, let us the focus on interactive relationships past the holidays and make it our most important work throughout the year. Not only in our personal lives, but in our professional activities as well. If we want Enterprise 2.0 to positively effect the way that business is done and make social business the new norm, it must begin with each of us. As individuals we need to:

  • reaffirm existing close relationships, strengthen weak ties, and make connections with new individuals inside and outside of the organizations in which we work
  • have more conversations that will build trust in and from our co-workers, business partners, and customers
  • listen better and be more aware of others’ needs, so we can help fulfill them whenever possible
  • be more open to the possibilities offered by working with others to create emergent solutions that meet the needs of the majority and create meaningful change

So here is my wish for next year. That the social interaction inherent in the holiday season becomes the norm for all of us in 2010. That we walk, talk, and breath the principles of community, openness, collaboration, emergence, trust, and mutual respect that embody successful social interaction every day of the new year. It is up to us to be the change in which we so firmly believe. Happy New Year!