The culture of collaboration

Steve Dale writes about the need for organisations to consider the cultural as well as the technological issues around collaboration and communication using the web”

An excellent posting from Shawn over at Anecdote about fostering a collaboration culture. A good corollary to my recent postings about what I see as growing and misplaced belief that Web 2.0 is the solution to more effective knowledge sharing. They key point I was trying to make is that technical solutions (blogs, wikis, RSS) by themselves do not create, nurture or develop learning and sharing communities, or improve engagement between government and citizens. I emphasised the importance of people in the equation, both in terms of skilled facilitators (those who support and encourage conversations and collaboration) and the willingness of the users themselves to actively engage (e.g. a shared domain of interest). Shawn refers to fostering a culture of collaboration, which I think is quite often overlooked by those who are rushing headlong into implementing Web 2.0 facilities in order to achieve better knowledge management.  To put this into perspective, the investment (time, cost and support) for the ‘people and process’ side of the communities of practice being developed across local government exceeds the cost of the technology by a factor of ten or more. Furthermore, this is recurrent cost and not a one-off capital expense.

I’m delighted that Steve is already signed up with the etoolkit project wiki, as getting this balance right is key to the success of the project. The toolkit we are developing will make clear the complete costs of implementing a social media solution to a problem, including people’s time and training, as well as the financials. Social media and web 2.0 are quick and easy to do, but not so quick, and not so easy to do well.