Thursday, November 4, 2010

Collaboration: Socio and Technical Are One

Despite the recession (or because of)HR leaders are preparing to expand into new markets/geographies over the next three years. This is according to a survey - Working Across Borders - published by IBM in September, 2010 (see link below). Such expansion, of course, means finding ways to work more efficiently and effectively across many types of boundary. The study found three workforce gaps Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) need to address:

Cultivating creative leaders: nimble leadership in complex, global environments
Mobilizing for greater speed and flexibility: developing greater capability to adjust underlying costs and faster ways to allocate talent
Capitalizing on collective talent: generating more effective collaboration across increasingly global teams

The CHROs rated their organizations as least effective in fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. Seventy eight percent of the HR leaders interviewed did not think their organizations were effective at fostering collaboration and social networking. Only 19 percent of respondents regularly use collaborative technologies to identify individuals with relevant knowledge and skills, 23 percent to preserve critical knowledge, and 27 percent to spread innovation more widely. Even if companies have the IT infrastructure, they are not using it to make the best use of their global talent and intellectual assets.

The report makes some useful suggestions for HR leaders:

Weave collaboration into the way employees work:
Promote the formation and use of cross-organizational communities around strategic topic areas
Build collaborative capabilities directly into business processes and project management activities

Raise the visibility of ideas and insights
Sponsor online collaborative events to identify ideas, prioritize them, and then resource them
Incorporate all parts of the internal and external business network into the innovation process
Increase the visibility of connections between individuals/work teams to identify new trends and their dissemination

Create and share assets to drive productivity improvementCreate value through the systematic capture and reuse of individual work outcomes

While these suggestions are very useful they have a technical/process-driven flavor that will take enterprise collaboration only so far. Making the best use of a collaborative IT infrastructure to produce results requires an equally powerful set of collaborative values (backed up with highly supportive reward and recognition incentives). Once upon a time 'socio' and 'technical'were spoken of together in the same breath. We need to breathe new life in the 'socio' side and make sure it always accompanies the 'technical'.

On the 'socio' side, what sort of shared values will help you create the climate for collaboration?

Professionalism over politics
Trust over suspicion
Conversations over commands
Transparency over secrets
Problem-solving over blaming
Opening over closing
Creativity over conformity
Inclusion over exclusion
We and me over me
Yes/and over yes/but

The list could go on and on. You might want to be a bit more creative:

Circles over triangles
Fire over ice
Fluids over solids

Just as long as you share the same meaning!

And, the link to the IBM report is here!