Now and then – managing emergence in workforce collaboration

What qualities will make or break the next big thing in collaboration?

I think it is not about the technology per se, but more about finding technologies that are resilient against controls [by management]. When I first came to Lotus, I was excited [that] anybody could create a Notes database on a server and set up access control in a very intuitive way. Anyone, not a database administrator, could create a place to meet. Slowly, over time, [IT managers demanded more control]. You would have to submit a request to create a database; you would have to submit a request to change access control. As a result, a lot of places [that use Notes] don’t have the “group experience” in Notes, and they just use it for e-mail.

Hat tip to Michael, for spotting this interview with IBM Fellow, Irene Greif. Her interview reflects a great deal of my own experiences of observing how different organisations deploy and control the use of collaboration technology. Its also worth reading Michael’s comments on the interview – I think the need manage ‘database/site/space’ creation is an important issue, however I wouldn’t necessarily assume strict controls are necessary. In fact, social computing platforms give us new ways to organise emergent information structures, which is definitely something we didn’t have before.