ME2: Horizontal Collaboration

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind.

From the desk of @TheBrycesWrite:

Horizontal Collaboration (AND Vertical Collaboration)

I have been using the term “Horizontal Collaboration” recently to describe to colleagues a key objective of our Enterprise 2.0 efforts – better enabling cross-silo community collaboration. This illustration also incorporates Andrew McAfee’s E2.0 Target Analysis concept to demonstrate the opportunity of encouraging culture and technology to better enable Horizontal Community Collaboration – significantly higher throughput of converting Potential Ties into Weak and Strong ties.

I am not pretending that the Enterprise 2.0 “movement” invented communities. Workers in the corporate environment have certainly operated in horizontal communities longer than I’ve been around, however, the means by which these communities have had to populate/share/communicate/persist have been a rate-limiting factor. Community originators and participants have been forced to work with business capabilities and culture rooted in Vertical Collaboration, resulting in high entry barriers, poor participation and attempts at knowledge sharing left poorly consumed, etc. Technology tools targeted at Horizontal Collaboration in combination with more transparent work behaviors can turbo-boost the benefits of organic communities within an organization.

It is also important to point out that advocating Enterprise 2.0 / social collaboration isn’t necessarily the equivalent to denouncing all forms of Vertical Collaboration. Each have their value and their place for particular types of work. Advocating Enterprise 2.0 / social collaboration is the recognition that we’ve found something effective at filling in the knowledge gaps left by traditional Vertical Collaboration methods that prevent organizations from maximizing the capacity of their people. Thus, encouraging the use of capabilities and behaviors that fill those gaps – Web 2.0 / social media inspired methods proving to be effective for Horizontal Community Collaboration – will complement your traditional collaboration methods well.

The trick then becomes 1) Aggregating the user experience of both styles of collaboration as to not add clutter to already inundated employees and 2) Education on easily identifying the unique merits of each method and how to make choices to maximize their contributions within each.

Fellow Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council member Stan Garfield shared with us this week his incredible Communities Manifesto. And I thought his table (copied here) was a great educational tool for clarifying the reasons and benefits of Horizontal (Community) vs. Vertical (Team) collaboration of a person’s work/knowledge:

Communities Teams
Purpose
  • Learning
  • Problem-solving
  • Innovation
  • Mission accomplishment
Motivation
  • Voluntary
  • Assigned
Duration
  • Ongoing
  • Finite
Interaction
  • Asking and answering questions
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Reusing good ideas
  • Solving problems for one another
  • Brainstorming new ideas
  • Sharing documents and files
  • Using a shared calendar
  • Attending regular conference calls and meetings
  • Maintaining a list of team members
  • Editing shared documents
Alignment
  • Practice
  • Interest
  • Responsibility

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

Most blogs that are authored and published within Lilly’s collaborative environment are either 1) Authored by a single person or 2) Authored by a small group of people but for the intent of pushing knowledge out to people not a part of the small group.

This week I came across a team using our blog platform in a slightly different manner and I thought it was clever. They had a team blog they used for communication within their team amongst one another, but they had the security open so others could read and benefit from their internal team conversations. The team was using this technology platform in place of an email distribution group (no more Reply-To-All-athons!). Obvious benefits include single instance of a message instead of many, transparency of responses and resulting conversation and long-term storage for history retrieval.

Sample (and generalized) interactions within this blog include:

  • “Team, I’m over booked this week, can I get some volunteers to help me with these 4 tasks I am not going to be able to get to….?”
  • “X task is complete. You can find the results stored in Y at this link.”
  • “I can’t remember the ingredients to product Z. Does anyone know what they were or where I would look to find out?”
  • “Don’t forget to stay up to date on your safety and compliance training by Feb 1!”
  • “I have completed the work to get equipment X replaced. The new machine will be installed and ready for you to use in 3 weeks.”
  • “Thanks to everyone for such great work today!   We have the following 3 outstanding requests that need to be escalated: 1, 2, 3″

Email distribution lists with many replies and difficult to track response threads drive you crazy? Consider this approach if possible for you.

Top Reads of the Week:

  1. The Business Value of Social Networks – “Value creation has thus been shifting from protecting proprietary knowledge, to fostering collaboration, both within the company and beyond its boundaries, in order to help the firm participate in as broad and diverse a range of knowledge flows and thus improve its competitive position.”
  2. Social Media in Life Sciences – Not new, but I read it this week!  “The Social Workplace – Employees who actively share their knowledge emerge as experts, and companies that encourage employees to share their expertise build stronger peer-to-peer networks, accelerating internal productivity gains.”  My experience with the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council is certainly a testament to this statement.