Hierarchy versus informal knowledge sharing
Over the past few years companies have paid increasing attention to communication skills, have trained their employees and screened candidates to find people with appropriate skills. All this is generally being done so that current employees and new hires fit seemlessly into companies' organisational structure and easily adopt their culture. What is systematically overlooked, though, are the human assets represented by the informal communication patterns within the enterprise, or between entreprise colleagues and the outside world for that matter. Although, companies have representations of their hierarchical organisation, they do not have means to easily represent the patterns of communication, information sharing and value creation that are the actual paths towards getting work done effectively.
A framework for entreprise collaboration
A way to build views of the way a group or a company interact informally is to perform an organisational network analysis that will help quantify the shape, intensity and value of communication in support of business objectives.
The results will give insights about the maturity of collaboration in the company. I would define maturity of collaboration as the ability for a group or an entreprise to create sustaining value through an unfettered flow of information that can be generated to solve problems, develop products or markets or foster innovation.
Drawing from a number of sources (see linkography at the end of this post), I've been trying to depict a collaboration maturity model that would clearly describe the state of an organisation as well as give clear indications as to what needs to be done to move from one stage to another. I came up with this diagram:
The main conclusions that one can draw from this model are:
- Collaboration moves from aphazard individual initiative to full blown enterprise strategy as we climb up the maturity ladder
- Entreprise culture needs to evolve to nurture, recognize and reward values of openness, knowledge sharing, risk taking, trust and "crowd evaluation" (knowledge value emerging from assessment by the people in an interactive fashion)
- The technical infrastructure needs to evolve towards content and people information accessibility, global metadata management and ultimately provide seemless access to intranet + extranet resources