Social Collaboration In the Enterprise: The Heart--And Goal---of Community Is "Collaborating People", Not Collaboration Tools

Julie Hunt

Community and collaboration in business enterprises is about people working together more effectively, quickly, and proactively – to achieve the goals of the business as robustly as possible. This may sound like a simplistic statement, but it seems to be eluding many companies that are adopting social media tools.

There is a constant stream of information on the internet on how to implement social collaboration software in enterprises, both for internal and external purposes. Quite a healthy industry of solutions, consultants and advisors has sprung into being. Many blog posts and articles are devoted to recommending the best ways to take advantage of social media software.

But for many companies, implementation efforts for social collaboration software will be doomed to failure for one simple reason: most enterprises have failed to engender a "collaboration culture" based on real human interaction. The executive management of many companies does not even understand what a "collaboration culture" is.

Frankly, executive management of many companies is hard put to authentically value employees--these companies want to de-humanize employees with such terms as "resources" and "human capital", and think that it is enough if they sling around a few "mission statements" claiming that they "value" employees.

The proliferation and subsequent failure of traditional formal enterprise collaboration tools proves that collaboration is not successful just because there are software tools. These formal collaboration solutions are usually unwieldy, result in silos of information, are extremely opaque, and most importantly, fail to engage the humans for whom the collaboration venue is meant.
The newer social collaboration tools are better at ease-of-use, agility, relevance. But it is still essential that companies grow and nurture live collaboration cultures, where collaboration is a natural response for business activities, for any departments in the enterprise. Planning a healthy collaboration culture also requires a dynamic plan for the role social media tools will play to bring the people in the company together in worthwhile interaction.
Returning to the human side of business won’t happen magically--it will take real work and real commitment, from the executive level through all levels of management and employee departments.

First published on Call Center IQ