Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've noticed something about social software - it's marketed in one of two ways - very cool, crisp colors or wonderful playful child like drawings. I don't know if they are appealing to the child in us or to our creative side. No matter, they're still interesting.
In a curious twist to the question this week "Describe the impact you think organizational culture has on knowledge-sharing." I wonder the opposite, what influence does knowledge sharing have on organization culture?
Organizational culture can allow blogs, tags, integrated social platforms, shared video to abound. Organizations sharing knowledge, supporting staff training and creativity, and allowing presence beyond the office, help to create tech savvy employees according to Mackay in "Invest in Collaborative Tools, Get More than Double Return, Study Says." So organizational culture needs to be a nurturing environment for social media.
Social media is itself a communication environment. It creates connection,it is communication with other people, and communication thrives in an open structured environment. So in this environment, skills with social media would grow, right? My thought is that there is a chance of getting overwhelmed with all the good stuff. This class is a good example. I love social media. Truly love it. I've had fun this week trying out new toys. Fully half of them will remain on my browser, free license expired but I know I'll keep a bunch of them. I'll keep Skype to see friends far away. I'm trying to develop a wiki project at work for the organization. I've fallen in love with Google Wave. And I'm still working on Meebo. However I figured out that I'm learning something like thirteen new applications a week, which works out to nearly two a day. My learning curve is a sharp line upwards, not so much in learning new works, but in applying them to my daily bread, my library work. (And for that matter, some of my schoolwork.) I wouldn't stop it for the world, like I said it's a lot of fun, but if learning the tools come at a quick rate in an already fast environment, it might make it difficult to integrate. Then we have staff overload, ideas spinning out of control or abandoned, and poor staff morale. So the trick is to decide how and when to introduce all of these new toys, finding the right venue for them, and giving a lot of extra time to play.
Take the wiki for an example. Suarez, author of the article "When wikis won't work, ten questions to ask before full adoption" enumerates the five first questions that must be addressed before even attempting a wiki:
1.Is a wiki the best technology for what I am seeking to accomplish?
2. Is my community cohesive and focused enough to be able to work together?
3. Am I asking my community to create a universal truth based on tangible facts?
4. Is my community going to be able to agree on these facts?
5. Is my community both knowledgeable and interested about the subject of the wiki?

The next five questions deal with the structure of the organization and how they might be impacted by the wiki:
1. Does my team / community have got the necessary resources to support and facilitate the participation on the wiki?
2. Is the team / community capable of maintaining the wiki with a robust enough infrastructure?
3. Do team / community members trust each other good enough to be able to update content on top of each other's content without risking the quality of the knowledge shared?
4. Will the team / community provide the necessary education and training materials on how to effectively make use of the wiki for that specific purpose?
5. And, finally, the killer question: can the team / community perform that task at hand with the same quality and participation using other tools than a wiki? If so, why don't you would use whichever of those tools? (Suarez, 2007)

Social media in it's ever evolving state is here to stay and what will be fun is seeing how organizational culture and social media intertwine in their symbiotic way. Will it cause organizations to loosen tightly organized structure or the opposite, create a loose dissonant mess of functioning culture?

Mackie, S. (2009). "Invest in Collaborative Tools, Get More than Double Return, Study Says."

Suarez, L. (2007). “When Wikis Won't Work: 10 questions to ask before full adoption.”

1 comment:

  1. I really like your point that the use of collaborative tools will influence organizational culture. So even in an organization that is less supportive of collaboration than we might like, we can look for an opportunity to insert a wedge. If we find something that people are eager to accomplish, and offer the right tool for the job, we might be able to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration to skeptics and even get them involved.