enabling enterprise social networks

Mark Britz says that, “your organization already has an enterprise social network (hint, it’s people not technology). A platform just exposes it.” But it’s not not about the tools either, as in many cases the medium changes the message. When the AgileBits team found they were using Slack for everything, it became overwhelming, much as email and its inevitable inbox overload, is common in too many organizations.

“Slack was simply too good for us to resist and as a result we preferred using it over all the other tools at our disposal … All of these interactions would happen in Slack, despite there being many other tools that are better suited. Tools like bug trackers and wikis would allow answers to be preserved so future questions wouldn’t even have to be asked but they weren’t as fun.

We all knew how great it would be to have a repository of knowledge for people to find their answers, but Slack was simply too good at providing the quick fix we all needed. Copying these answers from Slack to a permanent location didn’t release the same endorphins provided by Slack, so it seldom happened.” – Curing Our Slack Addiction

I recommend a three-part approach to cooperating and collaborating at work. First, individuals need their own practices and self-selected tools to practice their unique approaches to personal knowledge mastery. Groups and teams can work out loud using enterprise social networks (ESN) and platforms like Slack. Then it is an organizational responsibility to curate what is shared in systems like Slack so that some of it can be found and used as needed later. This is an additional role that requires dedicated people. It seems most organizations do not add that role when adopting their ESN.

Networked organizational knowledge needs channels to flow. Individuals have to take responsibility for sense-making and knowledge sharing. Teams have to develop norms that do not overpower members with too much information. And the organization has to add some structure to the knowledge flows that result from all of this sharing. It’s simple, but it takes time, practice, technology, and people dedicated to making it work.


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