(Previously, on elsua – The Knowledge Management Blog at ITtoolbox)
Tags: Collaboration Loop, Melanie Turek, IBM, Second Life, Metaverse, Virtual Worlds, Play, Games, Work, Workplace, Life, Collaboration, Knowledge Sharing, Knowledge Management, KM, Communities, Social Computing, Social Networking, Social Software, Social Media, Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Learning 2.0
A couple of days ago I was actually browsing through my RSS feeds from Collaboration Loop and I bumped into this particular article, created by Melanie Turek, which I found rather interesting and thought-provoking: Here’s a thought: Not All End Users Love Technology. In it Melanie gets to discuss how IBM keeps getting more and more involved with the world of the metaverse, specially with Second Life, as another interesting platform to dig in so that knowledge workers would have an opportunity to improve their online interactions with others by sharing their knowledge and collaborating through virtual worlds in, perhaps, a much more efficient and effective way.
However, she also questions whether other companies would be able to join in what IBM seems to have been doing lately: i.e. encouraging its knowledge workers to see the business side of playing with Second Life:
"Most companies don’t want to entice their employees to work by making it seem as though that work is actually play. And frankly, most employees don’t really want to play when what their supposed to be doing is work."
Here is another thought-provoking quote to go along those same lines:
"The typical knowledge worker doesn’t want to play with her technology; she wants her technology to help her do her job better, faster and more easily."
Or even this other one which is just as provocative:
"Most knowledge workers don’t want to pretend to be living a second life in order to do their jobs; creating avatars and 3-D mazes won’t make their work more appealing, and it’s unlikely to encourage them to do it more successfully… or even just more of it."
Goodness! I am not sure what you all think about those particular quotes, but I have yet to see the first company who wouldn’t want its knowledge workers to have fun while getting the job done! Isn’t that the perfect combination? Or am I missing something larger in here? Isn’t that what every single business tries to achieve with their workforce, that they are working in an environment that is friendly enough for them to make the most of it by having fun? By playing, if you would want to say that out loud?
I mean, we all know this. Most of our learning processes whether for our personal lives or whether for our daily job tasks will always be much more effective if they are done in a playful environment. After all, we all get to learn stuff by interacting with it, by playing, by having fun. Otherwise, it would become rather difficult to let sink in and adjust to it.
That is why I have always felt that one of the key components towards the success of a KM strategy is how flexible it would certainly be to incorporate fun elements to the whole thing. More than anything else because knowledge workers seem to adjust better when there is some playing involved, specially in the learning environment. Something they can relate to, they can have fond memories about and connect with those, and with other people whenever it would be needed. That is, perhaps, one of the main reasons why social computing has brought KM back again into the spotlight. It is actually fun hanging out there with other knowledge workers sharing knowledge and collaborating on those topics they feel passionate about. Don’t you think?
Why is it that every time a new project team or a community gets started, or a bunch of people who do not know each other well just yet, they start connecting with one another by doing team / community building activities, or icebreakers, that usually involved playful events, i.e. games? How can we then turn around and state that we do not enjoy having having fun while doing our jobs? It beats me and I can only imagine that being in that situation will eventually end up in boredom and therefore time to move on to the next thing.
I am not sure what you think, folks, but I have a feeling that we better get started changing out state of mind and embrace the fact that the workforce from today hasn’t got anything to do with the workforce from the last century. Things are changing fast! Getting the job done is not enough any longer. To be able to keep knowledge workers satisfied with what they are doing, there would be a need for a balance between play and work. Yes, indeed, getting the job done while they are having fun!
I know that this may sound a bit idealistic and everything, but if you come to think about it it could well be the way future interactions will be taking place within the workplace, which is probably why more and more businesses are exploring some of the business benefits from virtual worlds, and in particular Second Life. Otherwise, why would they do it? For the hype? I don’t think so. The time, efforts and energy spent on it would no longer be worth it.
"But not all consumer technology needs to be used on the job, and not all of it will be. If technology doesn’t help employees work smarter, faster and better, it probably won’t gain traction—no matter how cool it appears to be."
Yes, I agree with that argument to some extent, but wouldn’t it be much worthier having technology help knowledge workers work smarter, faster and better and have fun at the same time? What do you think? Are you having fun at work yet?