Wednesday, 6 June 2018

#EntDigi #EDS18 Categorising social / digital technologies

The above tweets were triggered by Dion Hinchcliffe's keynote this morning which I still want to post on. But I also think the issue they describe provides an interesting issue in its own right.

I agree the technology isn't vitally important. The behaviour is. But the right technology will make it more likely you will get the right behaviour and a good level of adoption.

And 'right' has to be about a relative fit for purpose in your own organisation, not just an absolute perspective on quality.

There are two key inputs to this decision. The first is your organisation principles. The second is an understanding of what outcomes you want to achieve. And the third is your approach to do this, eg what type of behaviour you trying to encourage.

This third question can be answered by identifying the right category of technology to fit your needs. And this requires some sort of categorisation of technologies.

I liked this graphic from the Bank of England that also shows the complex technological environment in many firms.

I've also been interested in Isabel De Clercq's emerging graphic on synchronous / asynchronous collaborative technologies.

The comments on Isabel's article point to some of the difficulties in doing this, eg people consider S and A in different ways, and most tools can do some of both depending on how you use them.

Collaboration is even more difficult - there are very different views about what we mean by this and alternative names for different types of communication. And also once again, there's a lot of overlap between them.

However, I do think most models make the mistake of defining the territory from the perspective of the tools and what it can do rather than how people are going to use it.

My own model comes from this last perspective, looking at the groups working in an organisation and the type of technology which can best enable the type of work they need to do:
  • If you're focused more on tasks than on people, and on your own internal activities, eg in a simple, functional (Isabel's hierarchical) environment, you may want to use traditional / social intranets eg Sharepoint
  • If you're focused on tasks but more externally focused, eg in a customer focused, cross-functional team and need to be able to chat (synchronous) and collaborate, you'd probably be best of with Slack or Microsoft Teams, etc
  • If you're more interested on the people doing the work, eg you're operating in broader networks spanning across the organisation you'll need something like Jive
  • And if you want to provide people a home, you'll need a community system like Telligent, or at least one in which people find it very natural to form communities like Workplace by Facebook.

You'll probably notice my definition of collaboration is different to Isabel's but aligns with eg the one provided by Mike Blair at Charles Taylor this afternoon: "Two or more people working on the same task to the same outcomes". 

I also talk about many of the above points in my book launch interview conducted with Workplace. And you can find out more in The Social Organization.

Also see my other post from #EntDigi: Organisation principles for a Gig Mindset

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