I’m beginning to think that the enterprise 2.0 concept of moving activity and information sharing styles like Twitter and Facebook into the workplace is based on a flawed concept or assemblage of concepts.
We’re all familiar with the idea that knowledge workers do their work around the water cooler: Picking up what they need to know via their network of friends and connections.
And we’re all familiar with the notion that Twitter and Facebook (and tools like them) can act like a virtual water cooler.
But there are a few problems here:
- Some organizations go ahead and use Twitter and Facebook as the water cooler. No thanks, I don’t want to mix my work and other lives that much.
- Some people don’t drink “water” and these people may be exactly the people that either need or have the information that needs to shared.
- Social networks are cliquey and exclusionary and operate on the pride of knowing, sharing and being in on the latest thing. Sounds a great deal like the old boy network of back scratching, graft and secret handshakes that makes the business world such a cesspool.
Being in on the latest thing is a competitive advantage. If an individual knows the latest thing it is a competitive advantage for them versus their coworkers. If an organization at large is in on the latest thing it is a competitive advantage for the entire organization. If an organization thinks everyone is in on it, but only some are, then there is a greater risk of the ball being dropped than if nobody was in on it.
So: There has to be more than the water cooler. There have to be artifacts that are curated and effectively shared.