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September 11, 2008


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John Maloney

Hi -

Not only is there tension, there is a lot of pain. The simple reason is that people are NOT put first. The enterprise focus on collaboration is now so dysfunctional it is akin to deploying an accounting or procurement system. It is a foolish and overbearing focus on tangibles, transactions and, most harmful, processes. People are seen as costs! Ridiculous. This craven and puerile approach to enterprise collaboration is widespread and fails with confidence. Look how Tim O’Reilly defines Web 2.0, “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform.” What a breathtaking farce!

Enterprise collaboration is pervasive, in spite of enterprise efforts. Collaboration inhabits, thrives in ubiquitous informal networks. It is specifically based on the intangibles you mentioned like motivation and trust and many, many others like reputation, relationships and perspective. Until intangibles are prioritized, visualized and optimized, and there is a remedial focus on value networks, expect little understanding, competence or leadership for enterprise collaboration.

The fastest way to oblivion is the to try to force-feed a collaborative strategy or application on the enterprise. It is a pull, not push model.

Finally, these 20th century process approaches to complex networks create a severe ‘forest for the trees’ problem for enterprise collaboration. See:


bill Ives

Jon - Thanks for your long response. You certainly right that collaboration has to be people focused and not simply an IT issue. Bill


There is always tension between technology, which almost requires formality (due to the way we implement), and the interaction of human beings. Interactions of almost any sort between people do not follow all the rules all the time. This is why technical solutions that don't recognize all the surrounding human behavior frequently fail or do not succeed as wildly as hoped from the outset.


I also see and experience this tension. To give you 2 examples: Sharepoint and wiki roll-out. You often see these kindof projects get rolled out as IT projects. So, you give employees the technology and let all else go. "The employees are not stupid, they'll use it in the right way". There is little focus on why the organization should use a collaboration tool and what type of tool is most productive. Furthermore, really helping employees to use the tooling effectively is mostly skipped to. You get some feature training and that's it.
On the other hand, pure people-projects also exist. They try to really understand users and the way they work. IT helps by offering different tools for different needs.

bill Ives


Thanks for your comment. I find these projects need to start with people and have them involved in the design. Then the rest works it ensures that the tech addresses needs and those involved spread the word to others. I always amazed and yet dot surprised that these old style IT approaches still exist even after they have been disproven over and over again. Bill

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