Sunday, 10 June 2007

Methodology for Web 2.0 Collaboration for Reluctant Organisations

Dave Pollard has developed a A Methodology for Web 2.0 Collaboration Experiments (in Reluctant Organizations). which he discusses in his business innovation and knowledge based blog How To Save The World.

This diagram explains the process he envisages will enable organisations to mitigate the three key areas he says people have difficulty with...

What's perceived as urgent in most organizations (i.e. what's keeping management awake at night) isn't collaboration or innovation or technology or worker effectiveness, it's cost reduction and risk management. Nothing else gets any executive bandwidth.

You can't change an organization's culture (short of firing everyone and starting over with new managers and staff). The best you can hope to do is help people adapt to the existing culture in useful, valuable ways.

Organizations are, mostly, complex adaptive systems, so one-step needs identification is futile. You have to let a full understanding of the organization's problems and needs, and the solutions that address those needs, co-evolve. By the time you have an intelligent answer, your understanding of the problem is usually vastly different from what it was at the outset.

The methodology he advocates is one based on experimenting with collaborative technologies. He's developed what looks to be a very pragmatic approach, grounded in the reality of business, which relies on what appears to be an action research approach, which spirals through four phases of planning, acting, observing and reflecting.

Where I think he's spot on is what he says about the need for champions to meet face to face in the inital stages of the process. As he says,

...there is much work to be done up-front to understand the opportunities and challenges, and some sleeves-rolled-up face-to-face is needed to do this

When I've asked project managers about whether meeting face to face prior to taking part in a shared blog would have given them more confidence in the group, they've had mixed feelings. Some felt that yes, they would be more comfortable sharing with people they knew, others felt that prior judgements about individuals roles and organisations would have a negative impact on sharing face to face.

Many of these judgements had a power dynamic. As the group blog is anonymous, and anonymity is a great leveller, the power dynamic has been removed. It may be that new ones build in relation to the activity of the community members, rather than due to prior assumptions about individuals within a bureaucracy.

Recieved wisdom does suggest that face to face activities strengthen a community, but it appears we can't necessarily assume this is the case.

What Dave Pollard is referring to is more those individuals who will drive forward the experiments in collaboration, rather than the wider community, but the impact of face to face activites on online collaboration is definately something to consider very carefully.

No comments: