Collaborative networks can develop superior products more quickly than the old “closed-loop,” one-company model “because the community is wiser than one individual.”
The value of accessing a collaborative network outside the company walls is nicely articulated in the quote above. Well, why not recast that concept?
Enterprise-wide collaborative networks can develop innovations more effectively than the old “closed loop” one-department model “because the community is wiser than one individual.”
What’s different here is the notion of “enterprise-wide” networks for collaboration and innovation. Put another way, employee crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing? As a collaboration framework?
Yes, because crowdsourcing is the asking of a large group for their contributions. Just because individuals in the community post original contributions, doesn’t mean other employees can’t collaborate around them. In fact, that’s an incredibly valuable basis for getting top ideas.
The table below describes the differences between traditional collaboration and crowdsourced collaboration:
Traditional collaboration has been, and always will be, a mainstay of organizational work. It has an execution orientation. There is no replacement for traditional collaboration, and making it easier through Enterprise 2.0 tools is critical.
What’s changing now is the nature of collaboration. It happens even earlier in the process of innovation. If traditional collaboration is the process of executing on a known objective, crowdsourced collaboration is the process of discovering and building ideas that are not yet known.
Enterprise 2.0 strategic consultant Oscar Berg describes this phenomenon as “collective collaboration“:
The point here is merely that by improving collective collaboration, collaboration that goes beyond ones closest team(s), an enterprise can increase the sum of all contributions to the common good. It is not about achieving an ideal state, but rather about trying to minimize sub-optimization, duplicate work, waste, bad decision making, and so on that come as a result of teams focusing too much on their own goals.
The differences between the two types of collaboration are described in some detail above. I want to call attention to a couple of them.
Teams form on common interest + Internally motivated participation
With the crowdsourcing approach, participation is predicated on you actually having an interest in a given idea. Not that you are tasked to bring a particular set of skills to a project that you may or may not care about.
You will find others who share your interest, and there’s no reason these have to be the people in your department. Indeed, for the interests of the organization, it’s better to get people that don’t usually work together collaborating on an idea.
And the bonus here is that people are intrinsically motivated to collaborate on an idea. It holds interest for them.
Contributions from anyone + Emergent interaction
Sure, companies are full of smart executives with good ideas. But are they the only source of innovations that will advance the firm? As Rex Lee, Director of Content Management and e-Collaboration for Research In Motion, writes:
Heaven forbid, that people find out that the innovation came by “fluke” and wasn’t planned. The reality is, informal interaction leads to innovation. Rather than cover that up, embrace that and create environments for that to happen.
Rex is right on, and I’ll bet you can think of moments of informal interaction that resulted in new ideas.
Traditional and Crowdsourced Collaboration Exist in Harmony
As mentioned above, crowdsourced collaboration does not replace traditional collaboration. Rather, it has more of a discovery mien. Its benefits:
- Surface ideas executives don’t know about
- Filter and refine ideas before they become projects
- Find people most enthused about an initiative
- Create new connections that traditional collaboration wouldn’t allow
Crowdsourced collaboration creates new opportunities, and traditional collaboration executes on them.
Crowdsourcing is the new collaboration.
(Cross-posted @ Spigit)