December 2, 2010
Since the advent of Web 2.0 we have witnessed the increased speed and ease with which we can use the Internet and our IT networks to connect with people and manage information. Now with the onset of utilizing these tools in a two-way interactive manner, the concepts of collaboration, transparency and knowledge transfer have taken up centre stage within most organizations and not surprisingly now inside the public sector as well.
However, a somewhat dubious chicken and egg scenario has seemingly developed around the use of these new technologies and concepts. On one hand collaboration, transparency and knowledge sharing are not new and have been factors in organizational efficiency and success for a long time. On the other hand, that the Internet has evolved to better serve and enable these approaches is really no surprise; after all, technology has always innovated in response to our needs (and certainly our business needs). Organisations seem to be spending a lot of time figuring out what should come first, adopting the technology or adopting the behaviours, when really the two must go hand in hand.
Having said that, the apparent reticence of organisational leaders to themselves adopt these low cost, low barrier technology enablers and embrace them as accepted organisational success factors is surprising.
The role of leadership in emphasizing behaviours that the organisation wants to see adopted has been stated, underlined and re-stated over the years (who can forget the much used “walk the talk” from the nineties business lexicon). If organisations do indeed want to see collaboration, transparency and knowledge exchange happen within their ranks, they need to also make it happen at the leadership level and for obvious reasons:
- Senior-level collaboration breaks silos, increases policy relevance and compliance, reduces duplication and ensures more cohesive approaches to organisation-wide objectives
- Senior-level transparency increases trust within the organisation and without; increases engagement and buy-in and contributes to the overall health of the organisation
- Senior-level knowledge transfer increases organisational learning and efficiency; and safeguards knowledge capital. It also contributes to greater understanding throughout the organisation of the strategic thinking behind approaches, goals and objectives as well as a better understanding of the risks and challenges.
“Be the change you want to see”, we’ve heard it before and it’s all the more true in the Web 2.0 enabled workplace. Only now, it’s easier to do and what’s more it only takes true leadership for it to be demonstrated.