Home > e2.0, Group Chat, social business > Time for some ‘IDEA SEX’

Time for some ‘IDEA SEX’

The most valuable asset of every organization for the future is brainpower, despite the fact that “employees do not show up as an asset on the bottom line” (Crager, 2002).

With this in mind it is easy to see why the focus of ‘Social Business’ or Enterprise 2.0 technology is on people and their profiles and often why they are so close in functionality to consumer tools. I don’t agree with this approach, Once a company has gone past the initial start-up phase those that remain successful understand that it is the collective efforts of individuals working together as teams that makes the difference. as the idiom ‘No one is indispensable’ is typically the case. This got me thinking about a great TED talk I saw some time ago by Matt Ridley (see it here). I wholeheartedly agree with this view, and there are plenty of examples of this in everyday life. I’d go as far as suggesting that the history of human success is the story of specialism when combined with contextual collaboration – let people focus on what they are good at and make sure there are easy ways for them to ‘connect’ with each other in the correct context. This is how we work.

Some great examples of how teams innovate and evolve we see or use every day – take GPS for example, the story goes that it all started one morning when some Physicists at the Applied Physics Lab at John Hopkins University were in the cafeteria talking about the successful launch and orbiting of Sputnik, they wanted to know if they could ‘hear it’, from that they wondered if they could work out its location, and eventually their boss (Frank McClure) asked them if they could reverse this process, to find out the location of an earth based object from an orbiting satellite and GPS was borne.

These coffee machine moments, or team meetings are the real lifeblood of organisations – however there is a belief that innovation is down to the ‘lone hero’, or a particular genius, that scientific breakthroughs happen by chance discovery, flash of insight, the rock star scientist having a ‘Eureka’ moment. This really isn’t how people work or think, the psychologist Dr. Kevin Dunbar spent extended periods of time (four months to a year) in molecular biology and immunology laboratories, videotaping and audio taping scientists at work in their labs all over the world., his team found that scientists would most often make advances in their lab meetings and by discussion with their peers. It was only with the birth of trade routes, commerce and urbanisation that, as a species humans were able to leverage specialist knowledge and skills and invent.

In my own work I have seen on numerous occasions that by implementing a topic and  team based approach to collaboration an organisation can yield tremendous rewards. One example was when we did a pilot with one company: they had a sales and trading team that was truly global, the pilot was to see if getting people to share what they were working on and discussing their activity with others, who were doing similar roles, but were dispersed geographically would give them a competitive advantage. The answer was given to them when a single trade generated enough profit to pay for the entire implementation (worth hundreds of thousands of dollars). The reason for this was that the new ‘TEAM’ were able to capture local specialist knowledge and apply it globally.

The is an ‘I’ in TEAM – A successful team is made up of individuals – but it requires them being given the tools to collaborate effortlessly (and informally) to avoid key man dependencies. . For proponents of enterprise 2.0 or social business it is vital that real-time contextual communication is put at the centre of these efforts.

 

If you would like to know more about how we have been helping organisations solve these issues please take a look at FCG.

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