Oscar Berg has further developed his digital collaboration canvas that describes nine capabilities required for collaborative knowledge work. He includes a handy CC-licensed worksheet to go with it. Oscar’s original work on this subject was part of my inspiration while working on a way to describe the required facets on an enterprise social network (ESN). I described how I developed the framework, based on the work of Oscar and others, in a presentation at the Learning Technologies conference in 2014. A recording of my presentation is available as well.
In looking at Oscar’s expanded canvas I see that digital transformation – the ability to work in a networked ecosystem – requires three interdependent skill-sets. The foundation for these skills is a democratic organization based on loose hierarchies and strong networks. Less control, and more democracy, is required in order to foster the trusted relationships necessary for knowledge workers to both cooperate and collaborate. Collaboration is working together for a common objective, while cooperation is openly sharing, without any quid pro quo. Collaboration is required to accomplish a task, but cooperation is how we contribute to our knowledge networks from which we can draw inspiration. Both are necessary.
In addition, each person requires the discipline of seeking out knowledge, making sense of it on an ongoing basis, and sharing with others at the appropriate times. This is personal knowledge mastery. PKM is each individual’s duty in any social learning contract. In social networks, those who do not contribute have fewer connections that they can access when they need help. If you do not give to your network, you will not get back in return.
Consider an organization that wants to work on a digital transformation. It has been decided that social learning is important for the training department. Staff draw upon what has been shared in external social networks and use it for their own purposes. Internally they share it. But they are not allowed to contribute to the external networks outside the firewall. In the long run, they will miss out on many opportunities, as they will be seen as takers and not givers. In my own case, I get many requests for advice or help via social media. If it is my first contact with that person, and I have not seen anything that has been contributed before, I will ignore the request. On the other hand, Oscar, who freely shares much of his work, can call me up and I will gladly share what I can. People like Oscar have built up enough credit to ask their networks for assistance. This is the long term value of cooperation.
What ties cooperation and collaboration together is the engaged individual with the freedom to act. Organizations can ignore this, and impose a structure that inhibits seeking, sense-making, and sharing. If so, collaboration and collaboration will not be effective. The knowledge network will lack sufficient diversity to provide insights for innovation or creativity. Digital transformation requires a workforce with the ability to master all three complementary skill-sets.