Government // Enterprise Architecture
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6/8/2011
12:00 PM
Dan Keldsen
Dan Keldsen
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Social Business: Don't Let Transparency Be A Barrier

What amount of collaboration makes sense to you and your company? Not to your competitors. Not to Apple and Google. To you.

2011 is turning into the most fascinating year of my life. And the last three years, starting up a new company amid an economic death spiral, have been interesting times, both good and bad.

A bit of context: I've been covering Enterprise 2.0 topics since I was at Delphi Group in 2003, when I had the audacity to think that wikis, blogs, and social networking might have some impact on the enterprise. In the meeting where I introduced the idea that we should be covering such topics as analysts, I was literally laughed out of the room.

Much has changed since 2003 and the world of the social business. For starters, let's dive into the real-world issues of transparency and maturity (or readiness).

NIMSW (Not In My Siloed Walls)

One of the runaway-train moments in any serious discussion of Enterprise 2.0 is, "Ahem, so exactly how much transparency are we talking about here?"

There's a distinct lack of comfort at medium to large organizations around the idea that "anyone" should be able to raise his or her voice or peer into the work that others are doing when people are so used to hiding in cubicles and behind closed doors.

Well, fear not, folks. Radical transparency is exactly that--radical. For everyone who is not a radical (i.e., most people), there's a simpler, gentler, and easier path into more transparency, and taking that first step is the most important of all the steps you can take.

Think of transparency as a slider you can push up or down at any time, to get the amount of transparency that makes sense to you. Not to me. Not to your competitors. Not to Apple, Google, HP, or anyone else. To you and your organization.

It's dynamic. You're in control. As for the pundits, gurus, and evangelists who are running ahead of you: Don't worry about them.

Find just one area where lack of transparency has been a problem--perhaps a lack of communication between a technical development team and the business owners. Rather than monthly or only long-term communications (i.e., waterfall methodology), have frequent meetings (yes, in person, unless everyone is remote) and raise the questions and concerns early, before it's too late to turn the ship.

Or connect salespeople (who frequently are the last to know about changes) with the product development team, so that ideas can be shared about how clients will react to the newest product or improvement. And plan to make the entire process more successful on purpose by making it possible to have transparent communication among the whole team. Don't let transparency be a burden. There's no sane reason to think you need to go to 100% transparency across the entire organization.

The right amount of transparency makes your work much easier. How? It removes those barriers that were in place--"because that's the way we do things (around here/in this country/in my age group)"--but were just unquestioned assumptions about why and how things get done.

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Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/5/2011 | 7:43:35 PM
re: Social Business: Don't Let Transparency Be A Barrier
I think this is a really important post because it addresses the cultural issues around social networking within enterprise apps and around social networking in general. It (participating in social networking) has to be purposeful, and it has to make sense for your business. Not every business is set up in such a way that the associate lowest on the totem pole should be sharing his or her every thought with the company CEO. And not every business can tolerate high levels of public exposure. But every business can likely benefit from social networking functionality in some way, shape or form. Just like every business decision, there should be a plan with clearly stated and measurable goals before jumping in.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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