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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Internal Collaboration: What's Really Important

This week we read more about wikis and using them and other collaborative technologies within organizations.  While it was no surprise to me to find out that there are many more factors involved when gauging a collaboration's success than merely having a smooth implementation of the technologies, I did experience an 'ah-ha' moment when reading about the other contributors to internal collaboration.

Besides the technology being used, the organization's culture needs to be analyzed for its fit to that technology.  This is not new news, but it is an aspect I think is lost on many large organizations and libraries.  This was my 'moment', it made me think of how often an organization actually looks at a collaborative software and measures it against its own organizational culture.  How will implementers develop and nurture buy-in, what internal technologies are they already using that will need to be stopped to encourage use of the new software, and what is the measurable added value of this collaborative software for the organization?

The article, Corporate Culture, Not Technology, Drives Online Collaboration, helps with beginning to develop a framework for large organizations to use when deciding on what type of internal collaborative technology to use.  The culture of the organization is required to be more open and trusting, with very little micro-management and technically savvy, willing employees.  The article also discusses knowledge archipelagos, where the hoarding of information or knowledge is counter productive to the collaborative process, obviously.  These are just a few of the elements that contribute to having a collaborative organizational culture and would seem to be useful for almost every large organization, not just corporations.

The upshot of reading this week's articles and thinking about using internal collaborative technologies, such as wikis, drove home the fact that no matter how wonderful or integrative collaborative initiatives are, it's the culture that can make or break a successful implementation or use of these innovative and creative methods of working together.  It is the people and how they interact, a culture of micro managers and paranoid coworkers will always torpedo collaborative efforts.


  1. The workplace culture is totally going to make or break internal collaboration. I never really understood companies that pitted their employees against one another. I worked at Sears for a little while selling electronics and don't think I'll ever work sales again! Having employees trying to compete for sales created a very tense environment. Some people would try and steal sales away from other employees among other ruthless acts. Needless to say I think if you were to try and implement a shared wiki into a competitive workplace it would fall flat.

  2. Wow! Working at Sears sounds intense, definitely not my first choice of work environments. Luckily for us, libraries are 'mostly' less intense and more pleasurable to work in. :) Thanks for your post, Erin.