From Hierarchy to Collaboration: Changing the Way We Work and Learn

collaboration puzzle pieces

It’s no exaggeration to say that social media has revolutionized how we live our lives. It has changed the ways we think, the way we act, and the way we form our relationships. It has become an extension of ourselves in a way that Marshall McLuhan, in his 1964 work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, predicted: “We change our tools, and then our tools change us.”

But that’s nothing new. We know that already.  The proliferation of web 2.0 and social tools and the idea of a “collaborative workplace environment” as a crucial intangible asset to an organization’s success is core to the concept of social enterprise.

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IBM recognized this idea back in 2008 when they released a report titled, “The new collaboration: enabling innovation, changing the work place”. It essentially argued that the old corporate model – encompassing of “exclusivity, hierarchy and solitude” – was no longer competitive in a globally interconnected world.   Even though that report was written several years ago, it still rings true today.  Here is a key excerpt from that report:

“To today’s innovative worker, collaboration is what work is all about. In the old way of thinking, employees make themselves valuable through what they know. But in the new way, people make themselves valuable by seeking opportunities to work with others and tapping into the expertise that others possess. In the old way, content is owned and protected. In the new way, content is developed through participation; it is fluid, contextual and leveraged to create opportunities through ongoing collaboration. In the old way, directories of people provide static contact information. In the new way, dynamic profiles reflect what people do, with whom and how well they do it.”

In other words, companies then were beginning to see a “shift from a document-focused work style to a people-focused work style,” facilitated by the rise in social media. In fact, Gartner predicted back then that “by 2011, social networking and social interaction will be more popular than team collaboration among enterprise users.”

It’s clear that as new technologies are changing the ways we communicate, we are realizing more and more that fostering a social learning environment that is collaborative in nature is essential to good business. Now that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected, businesses face greater competition from nimble competitors. Technologically-savvy customers demand more accountability from companies, and talented individuals expect to be able to tap into other resources to fuel their energy and innovation anywhere they go. Social learning, a seemingly simple concept, is a key ingredient to business success and innovation.

We believe strongly in this nature of teamwork between our colleagues, partners, and customers for learning collaboratively. What are some ways that you are learning in your organization?

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Comments: 1

  • As you say Collaboration is essential for companies to grow and become more productive. There are so many platforms on the market now that there is certainly plenty of choice but not always easy to find the one that is a good fit. We looked for a long time but ended up developing our own social collaboration and project management platform, Tracky, Since launching our platform we have continued to develop new features and improve existing ones to meet our user’s needs. You can post tracks or blogs from Tracky to social media sites and recently we integrated Tracky with Buffer to better enable our users to share what they are doing.

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