How to harness the power of social technologies and why information needs to be set free (from your email inbox).
According to McKinsey, the average worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. That means each and every week we spend 1 full workday playing a virtual game of hide-and-seek.
Now, why is that? Well, up until now, much of our focus has been directed towards putting in place rigid organizational structures and complex IT systems in order to achieve operational excellence. Things like: well-defined roles and responsibilities, ERP systems, formal reporting structures and processes that have been optimized to death. And, don't let me get started on email. Our reliance on email as the default communication and collaboration tool isolates content and limits its distribution, leading to the development of silos and the clustering of people based on department or seniority. C-level executives typically interact with other C-level executives, finance staff with other finance professionals and so on and so forth.
The ultimate weakness in this approach is not the importance it places on structure, it's the fact that it de-emphasizes the informal networks within an organization - the relationships that help us tackle situations that may not fit nicely into pre-defined processes and structures. Rather than forcing employees to go up and down hierarchical chains of command, it is these networks that create pathways for the free flow of information and knowledge across geographic and departmental lines.
In Mark Fidelman's new book, Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, he emphasizes the fact that open communication and transparency across all departments is critical to success - if one aspect of the organization isn't on the same page, it can crush the entire company. As CEO of Igloo, I make it a priority to maintain a flat organization and open-door policy. I personally believe each employee brings something different and valuable to the organization. And, even as we scale, social technologies make it possible to maintain this same approach.
According to Fidelman, it's only a matter of time before workers consistently demand to "be part of a culture that encourages communication, collaboration, sharing, openness and transparency, no matter which rung of the corporate ladder they happen to be standing." He goes on by outlining 10 tips that all information workers must follow in order to remain relevant in the next five years.
- Define Your Personal Brand
- Create Your Personal Community
- Use A Blog As Your Home Base
- Build A Proactive Presence on LinkedIn
- Master One Social Network
- Connect With Thought Leaders
- Participate In Your Industries Communities
- Create Original Content
- Monitor, Listen & Respond
- Share Content & Engage With People
At the core of his recommendation is a more open approach to sharing knowledge and information. It's about working out loud, rather than hidden behind a cubicle. It's about putting your daily work out into the open, rather than hording knowledge in order to gain power. He notes that this also applies to the corner office stating: "leadership is about making yourself available, present, and accessible, and about engaging with the public and your employees. With the new workforce, trust and transparency equals respect."
What are you doing to increase your organizational value? How does your organization support the formation of ad hoc groups? Share your thoughts below or tweet @IglooSoftware. And, if you have used Igloo to spur collaboration and unlock untapped value inside or outside your organization, I would appreciate it if you could join me in nominating Igloo for Best Collaborative Consumption Service and Sexiest Enterprise Startup for the 2012 Crunchie Awards from TechCrunch.