The Future of Collaboration Lies in Human Resources AND Management’s Hands

7 thoughts on “The Future of Collaboration Lies in Human Resources AND Management’s Hands”

  1. I am not sure why you focus on HR as key blocker of knowledge sharing & collaboration via social channels. IT must take some share of the blame with their bastion approach to security as should all other functional departments and management are so focused on their KPI’a that they have dropped the Baal as we’ll.

    In a few short years most of the baby boomers will have retired and with them the vast majority of organisational knowledge will walkout the door. It is already too late to capture all that experience, but perhaps social media channels will become even more valuable, as it gives organisations a means if engaging with these retirees after they leave.
    Blaming HR seems pointless to me, as they are only one silo in a forest of silos. Every organisation maintains multiple versions of the truth about people, assets, incidents, tasks etc.
    But a single brain contains more data than all the computers in the world and exploiting humans unique capabilities and the full potential of collaboration, has never been demonstrated to senior management. Once you can do that all the barriers to collaboration will be removed.
    So the real problem is not HR but us IT Vendors. We need to fix us first.

    1. Hi Ian, thanks a lot for dropping by and for the great feedback comments. Very interesting and noteworthy your commentary about the share of the blame for IT, including vendors.

      I can tell you that in my 17 years of having worked for the largest IT vendor in the world I don’t think that IT, nor the CIO for that matter, is the culprit as to why collaboration is not flourishing as it could. Perhaps 10 to 15 years ago where they were the main gatekeeper of the whole IT infrastructure it may well have been the case, but in 2014 I can certainly vouch that they are everything, but a hurdle. Why? Because it’s those very same employees who were once trapped behind the firewall who can now break free and make use of whatever the social technology at their disposal to collaborate with their peers, customers and business partners. And all in all without having to even use the IT infrastructure “pushed” by that vendor.

      More and more we are seeing how people are starting to flock to the Social Web to collaborate with their customers and participate of the co-creation process. The firewall is becoming thinner than ever and IT, if anything, does no longer control the game, I am afraid. In fact, plenty of the concerns from most business align with the fact that knowledge workers are collaborating and using these social tools more often and regularly outside the firewall than inside, highlighting the item that IT is no longer an issue.

      And if you ask people why they don’t collaborate internally, it’s not necessarily because of having poor IT capabilities or anything. It’s mostly because they have been incentivised to do so, but instead to compete with one another hoarding and protecting their knowledge. That’s where HR comes in, because they are the ones who have got those incentives in place following direct orders from the executive team(s) to ensure that instead of a large, powerful and engaged network they divide the workforce across so it’s easier to “manage”. The good old divide and conquer motto.

      And HR is right at the centre of the whole equation, because they are catering more the needs of the executive team than those of the employees they ought to serve. And, naturally, baby boomers start their journey into retirement and all of that knowledge is gone. But gone inside of the firewall, because the largest growing demographic on the Social Web is people above 65, highlighting how porous networks are and how restrictive the firewall can well be.

      It’s up to us to help figure out how we promote network driven activities vs. siloed private interactions. And somehow HR, more than IT, has got that ability for change. IT won’t even have a choice anymore, since the shift has already happened with elements like BYOD, for instance.

      I don’t think it’s a matter of needing to fix us first, but help enable the rest of the workforce to do their jobs more appropriate and effectively.

      Thanks again for the feedback. Much appreciated.

  2. Hi Luis

    Good post! But I have one doubt. The participation rate in companies with internal social networks is just 10%. What´s going on with these people who have the right IT for sharing? It´s possible that people contribution is low by nature in companies and in others life situations?



    1. Hi Benito, many thanks for dropping by and for the great feedback. I think that most organisations are eventually waking up to the realisation that just because you may have the technology in place there is no guarantee that people will use it. The “build it and they will come” is finally going through that wake-up phase where it just doesn’t work. Confirming as well that the adoption and adaptation to social technologies hasn’t got much to do with technology but with behaviours and mindset.

      So if you, as an organisation, are not making it easier for knowledge workers to change their behaviours and you, instead, foster and boost a culture of internal competition, corporate politics, bullying, fear and a strong sense of ridicule, amongst several other key elements, there is a great chance that most people would not embrace that new way of work.

      It’s been demonstrated time and time again how human beings are natural collaborators with an inner urge to help out those in need by sharing their knowledge and information, but when both HR and (senior) management keep advocating for a destructive corporate culture environment, it’s pretty tough to build a constructive and creative culture where interactions and conversations thrive. And that’s why it would explain, most probably, why the level of adoption of social technologies is so low.

      We need to shake off that corporate culture of unhealthy competition and, instead, encourage one of helping, caring and sharing with one another, but for that to happen both management & HR need to be come true champions of the transformation and not just mere obstacles, which is what they are at the moment, in 2014.

      Thanks again for the feedback!

  3. A passionate and thought-provoking post, Luis!
    I think an important consideration is how the organisation manages politics. Politics is an inevitable part of every organisation. Although its often characterised as a negative, it can be a powerful force for change and creatively if the tensions arising from the different goals, roles and agendas are guided towards a common outcome. This is a challenge for strong management and leadership. If done successfully though it can open the way for a much greater level of collaboration.

    1. Hi Tim, thanks a million for dropping by and for that wonderful feedback! Goodness! I think you are off to something with those comments around “corporate” politics. Yes, every single organisation has them and although the experiences may well have been rather negative (I have never heard of “corporate politics” as a positive trait, which I think is rather telling on its own!), they can be turned around into a huge opportunity and I couldn’t have agreed more with that statement.

      That strong management and leadership that you mentioned above could do a very good job at sponsoring that kind of politics under the auspices of both openness and transparency as main corporate traits for such politics and I suspect that we would all be benefiting so much more about it. The challenge is that, in most cases, it’s that same management that promotes an obscure practice of those politics to retain and cling to that status and power when, in reality, advocating for that openness and transparency would help them become even more influential into inspiring the much needed change in corporate organisations.

      One can only hope that the next generation of strong management and leadership wake up to that reality of Open Business and practice it plenty more in their politics. Something tells me vast majority of today’s issues would be fixed on their own 🙂

      Thanks again for that wonderful commentary and for sharing it along! Splendid addition into the conversation!

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