Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Over the last 3 years I have been involved in numerous experiments with enterprise 2.0 tools, some have been successful and some not so. Out of these experiments has come a realisation that a prerequisite of success is to ensure you create the right environment for collaboration to flourish. I haven come to think of these as a set of principles that define the core architecture of collaboration. These principles apply equally to the technology and the culture. It is my experience that adoption of these principles is required if a culture of collaboration and openness is to develop. The four core principles are:

  1. Freedom - The easiest way to prevent collaboration from occurring is to impose overly burdensome control around how colleagues work. If collaboration is to flourish we need to trust colleagues and not impose rigid workflows, inappropriate approval processes (moderation), restriction on who can collaborate with whom (association) and have an open attitude towards sharing information.
  2. Emergence - No two collaborations are the same, each team/group will have different requirements and will develop different working practices. Given this then we need to allow patterns and structures to emerge as collaborations develop. This is not to say we should not stimulate behaviors we want or share experiences but rather we should accept this and recognise that we need to avoid a 'One size fits all' approach.
  3. Clarity of Purpose - Contextualising tools for colleagues work processes is critical. Without a clear explination as to how and when to use new tools colleagues become confused and revert back to there default methods of working. The lack of consistent advice around how and when to use these tools inevitably leads to adoption of Outlook for information management, fragmented silos of project data and a lack of any real knowledge management processes.
  4. Ease of Use - Collaboration is about enabling conversations between people. It is not about technology. Therefore, it is critical that technology does not get in the way of collaboration. If we are to enable a culture of collaboration we must ensure that colleagues find the tools are intuitive and require minimal training.
Over the next few post I will expand upon each of these principles.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Best use of 20 minutes

Lawrence Lessig is a hero of mine. He is a libertarian and campaigns for reform of copyright, among many other things, which he argues is being used to stifle our cultural creativity. Watch the video below, probably the best use of 20 minutes of your time today, and think about this topic but in terms of attitude to information sharing within your company.

A couple of years ago I made a series of post to an internal blog on the need for a Freedom of Information policy within the company. Now this as you might expect was slightly controversial but it did get a conversation started. The kernel of the argument was that we should change our mindset from one where the default position was to lock down access to one where the default position was to leave access open. Note this was not forcing anyone to make things open but rather change the default settings on systems such that you had to actively make the choice to lock access down rather than being asked who should have access. This may seem like a minor change but it's impact has been huge and has contributed to the development of an open culture where sharing is the norm. Engendering this change has been central to the success of our effort to adopt enterprise 2.0 tools.