Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not collaborating is a power trip or we just don't know how ?

I've been thinking about why people don't collaborate and specifically collaborate in the sense of sharing information. I remember from a research project in the early 80s on the use and value of groupware, that back then we had tools that enabled people to share information just like we do today with wikis, blogs, Twitter or even simple email today. Back in 1983 or so, I was talking with a representative in IT at the Air Force and someone there said that people don't share information because "information is power" and sharing means giving up that power. It means giving up one's perceived competitive advantage. Like -- how can you teach something if everyone knows it or how can you be an analyst if everyone knows about what you are talking about? Nothing new between then and today although perhaps that power means a bit more in the Air Force than elsewhere.

But I think not sharing information is also because people don't know how to and they get no reward for sharing information. At the Air Force in the 80's, there was no pay for performing information sharing...after all, pay is a matter of grade level. And using something like Lotus Notes as a repository was not all that intuitive to use anyway. Today, sharing information still takes time with most of our social media solutions. Simple example: my quilting buddies don't know that they can actually provide a url about how someone does a technique like how to mitre corners and instead will download an entire YouTube video and then send that huge file. Or in my work where to really be an effective collaborator, one should not only share a file that may have valuable information but also explain why it is important to entice people to actually read the file. And, who has the time for that? Or for people to share information in repositories of customer information, they need to report news, site visit notes, conference attendee notes all the time and it it's not easy to do, people just won't do it.

Organizations have to pay in some way to reward people for sharing and make that part of the value system and recognize it in performance reviews. But people too need to realize that sharing information is pretty powerful not just for the organization but for themselves too. It shows you care to help your colleagues, and we all want to be caring individuals. It shows you know enough to realize the value of the information you are sharing and to articulate that value for othrs.

So, I encourage all of us to take the step from the individual's perspective and start sharing just for the value it will bring to you. Learn how to use social media as a collaboration tool. We can work on having organizations pay for collaborative actions later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Been awhile....

Thus started the blog of a dear friend (forgive the know that's a form of flattery) but it so totally tells the story. Other than a week off to go to Quilt Camp at Empty Spools in Asilomar, my nose has been to the proverbial grindstone. It's survey analysis season and my brain doesn't allow me to write when I'm doing data analysis. But then, realizing that I haven't written for a long time and have not just been doing data analysis, I realize that's a cop out excuse. I've just not had much to say while mulling over ...things.... Like, why do I work so much instead of doing the things I love like spending more time with family, friends, in the garden, quilting, etc? I still don't have the answer to that one. Or, why am I such a perfectionist and when is perfection really needed? I actually think I got pretty far on the answer to this one: it has to do with my own personal standards...not those of others. But perfection, in quilting is sometimes really needed. Like if you want really crisp seams to highlight a luminous square or getting bindings that don't curl. And if that level of perfection is too hard, then I should just make wonky quilts. But for now, I'm challenging myself to do perfect blocks. Or perfection is also needed in crisply stating hypotheses and testing them and reporting results. Or, is a licensed, on premise Oracle PeopleSoft HCM solution the best foundation for HR transformation or can organizations only transform with a SaaS HCM? Welll.....we all know the answer to that one. It's really a mindset to bring about HR transformation and no matter which platform an organization chooses....and there are lots of options these organization can transform to achieve more business value with the workforce. Yes, there are cost tradeoffs, but what's most important is having a clear workforce/talent management strategy in place. The technology choice that makes most sense will follow. So, what are your thoughts on my thoughts?