Where organizational support needs to go

Patti Anklam is blogging the E2 Conference and discusses how Tony Byrne distinguishes between Networking and Collaboration with this diagram:

Networking could also be called cooperation, as Stephen Downes helped me define it:

collaboration means ‘working together’. That’s why you see it in market economies. markets are based on quantity and mass.

cooperation means ’sharing’. That’s why you see it in networks. In networks, the nature of the connection is important; it is not simply about quantity and mass …

You and I are in a network – but we do not collaborate (we do not align ourselves to the same goal, subscribe to the same vision statement, etc), we *cooperate*

In the above matrix, I’ve shown how different levels of complexity call for different levels of work practice and group work. This is a key problem with our current systems of human resources (HR) and training systems. The majority of the effort goes into developing individual skills. From recruiting for skills, knowledge and attitude to individual assessments and salary scales, we pay little attention to how groups and organizations work and especially to the greater community from which we all draw support, information and knowledge. Adding “must be a team player” to a job description doesn’t cut it any more.

As our interconnectedness increases in the digital surround, it’s becoming obvious that we are not individuals doing our own thing, who from time-to-time have to deal with others. We are becoming our networks, but most organizational support functions do not  understand networked work and learning. They don’t even speak the language. HR, OD, L&D and training need to develop new literacies to discuss and account for those spheres that are outside the individual, yet are becoming such an important part of each of us.

Those large grey spheres are areas of significant importance and opportunity for the next generation of organizational support. They are also the fields of play for every snake-oil salesman around.

2 Responses to “Where organizational support needs to go”

  1. Kare Anderson

    This is one of the most powerful descriptions of the different ways we connect in an increasingly interconnected world – yet learning the apt way to leverage that connection is a lagging skill.

    I re-read this a couple of times to absorb the depth here – and am going to share it with others in my speaking, consulting and writing on collaboration. Thank you!


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