Radical Transparency: Sharing Objectives and Goals in your organization

As we look at enterprise social networking and the benefits it enables, it’s clear that the companies perform better when people collaborate. Yet as individuals, collaboration is not necessarily how we’re judged and rewarded. This usually has to do with our objectives which tend to be very focused on being individual contributors. Even executives’ objectives tend to be focused toward organizational performance, and sometimes these objectives can only be achieved at the company’s or other executive’s expense.

When dealing with new people inside a large company, it is common to question why people are acting the way they are and be suspicious of motives. This is often because people don’t understand what your role is inside the company and as a result, that lack of understanding and trust can make getting things done challenging.

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Breaking down silos, what does that mean?

During my last post Improving collaboration, breaking down silos, and innovating better. What does that all mean?, I shared what “improving collaboration” probably means to most people in the context of making business better. Today, I’m going to delve into the world of silos. What are they, what does it mean when someone tells you they want to “Break down silos” and finally how to challenge the person to understand what they really mean when referencing this jargon.

What is a silo?

According to dictionary.com, a silo is “a structure, typically cylindrical, in which fodder or forage is kept”. In the business context, a silo generally represents a wall or boundary put up by an organization to keep them focused on accomplishing their goals and keeping outsiders from interfering with progress. Sometimes these are also called “stovepipes”. Some might even go on to add that it’s an organizational construct designed to protect and serve the hierarchy. The bottom line is that silos are a method for ensuring focus around specific business deliverables.

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Improving collaboration, breaking down silos, and innovating better. What does that all mean?

I’ve been in the Enterprise 2.0/Social Business space for almost 5 years now, and have been both on the customer and vendor side of the table. What most people are guilty of, is really not knowing what the heck they want to do. I was guilty of it too. I thought Improving Collaboration and Breaking down silos were great business problems to solve. It was until recently that I started focusing around the business value of Enterprise Social that it hit me. Most people talk in jargon and have very little insight into what the underlying business problems are that they are trying to solve. Don’t get me wrong, they know their business problems, but in most cases haven’t connected the dots between problem and solution. Why? Because it takes a lot of analysis and thought to develop that understanding and most of us lack the time to do it.

Over my next few posts I will examine this jargon and help people understand each of these, very vague, clearly misunderstood, terms used around social collaboration inside of companies and help people help their organizations to get past the jargon to provide real business impacts.

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The Collaboration Heuristic

I recently have been listing to On Second Thought: Outsmarting your minds Hard-wired habits by Wray Herbert where he talks a lot about why we tend to do things out of habit (and perhaps how to change those habits). I highly recommend the book as it has given me great insight into why people do what they do. I wanted to perhaps apply some of that to social media, social business and Enterprise 2.0. As I mentioned in my earlier post Information Overload is an excuse, it’s not really about the information, it’s about our attention and the actions we take to manage it. I want to introduce a new heuristic called: The Collaboration Heuristic.

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