So, in the Government 2.0 discourse, we’re constantly saying that “it’s not about the tools and technologies.” Rather, it’s about a shift in the way we do business — a shift to collaboration. So why is it so tough to get organizations to adopt collaborative tools, mindsets and practices? Why are so many organizations pushing back on using these crazy social media tools?
In the traditional, 1.0 world, knowledge = power. Senior leaders and subject matter experts are powerful because they hold unique and specialized knowledge. Web 2.0 tools and the collaborative approaches upon which they are built undermine the traditional organizational paradigm. In the Web 2.0 world, knowledge ≠ power. Rather, knowledge SHARING = power. This is, obviously, enormously threatening to those who are experts, those currently in powerful leadership positions.
Because social media and Web 2.0 tools and technologies enable this sharing, many leaders’ instincts are to stop people from using these tools. If they can stop employees from doing this silly “collaborating,” they can stop the knowledge sharing that’s really the root of the power shift that’s (often subconsciously) seen as a threat to their power positions.
However, the approach (instinct?) of those with collaborative mindsets — “Collaborators” – is to band together with other like-minded individuals (online and offline) to problem-solve…. So, at first, Collaborators try to apply collaborative practices, processes and tools within their organizations. They know that there are better ways to do whatever business it is that they do. They see that missions can be accomplished more efficiently and more effectively.
Collaborators self-organize and pursue one or some combination of three approaches:
- Analogy: introduce external, but industry-related case studies that illustrate the value of collaboration
- Pilot: to the extent possible, do small test cases that actually prove collaboration can work within their own organization
- Convince: just talk the talk, meet with leaders and build bridges throughout the organization to create influence
At some point they either break through and make headway or their effort disbands, just as organically as it came together, because they find themselves banging their heads against a weight-bearing wall.