Networks can defeat the tyranny of geography. Unfortunately, there are major unintended consequences. Among the most severe problem is the faulty approach to collaboration, discussion and conversation.
People use technology when face-to-face is required. They use face-to-face when technology works great. It’s a real mess. Fortunately, the definitive answer is simple!
There are four choices. The correct choice is easy. What matters is whether the outcome is known or unknown. Most people don’t get it. They make terrible, expensive choices.
Same-time, different-place (STDP), different-time, different-place (DTDP) and different-time, same-place (DTSP), are excellent for deterministic impact and outcomes. These are activities where the outcome is known. They are Webinars, eLearning, information sharing, learning centers, project updates, company news, Websites, conferences, social media, online discussions, activity streams like Twitter, and so on. They furnish information, training, operations, diffusion, updates, project management, etc. These complicated activities are well-served by diverse network technologies.
Same Time Same Place (STSP) is for non-deterministic impact and outcomes. This is where the outcome is unknown, emergent, complex, social. These are creative activities like design, relationships, sales, strategy, persuasion, knowledge creation, etc. These complex activities depend on authentic conversation, emergence, genuine collaboration, diversity, personal interactions, trust, developing relationships, and so forth.
There aren’t exceptions to these rules. There may be some overlap, but for most all cases, no exceptions.
For example, in the Network Age typical, large STSP conferences are an utter waste of time and money. Sitting in a hotel ballroom in some far off city and looking at PowerPoint slides with hundreds of people is patently absurd. The outcome is known. There is no emergence or collaboration. The prospect of developing meaningful relationships is nil.
Meanwhile, nothing interferes with leadership more than the pathetic overuse of so-called collaborative technologies. For leadership, it never worked, never will. People matter.
Leadership is about creating a shared imagination; about Creating the Future. The outcome is emergent, complex, imagined, unknown. Thus, genuine leadership activities are STSP and conversational, by definition.
Let’s be honest. What matters is impact and outcome. Often, what people enjoy or value is just plain wrong. People only truly serve the networks that concern their goals and objectives. Most everything else is a waste.
For example, management cheerfully sponsors people winging-off to specious conferences at tourist destinations and resorts. They invest millions in dubious IT systems and technologies for collaboration.
At the same time, they scrutinize and often reject retreats, offsites and deliberate socializing. They shun genuine conversation and tacit knowledge creation. You might hear the common 20th Century refrain, “Stop talking, and get back to work!”
Management’s revulsion of socialization and authentic conversation, the foundation of all knowledge creation, is objectively dysfunctional. Needless to say, it’s goofy.
Newsflash: In 21st Century KM authentic conversation creates productivity, innovation, growth and prosperity. Conversation is work; vulnerability is strength; empathy is innovation!
In addition, beware the well-manicured collaboration technology vendor claiming to reduce your travel budget w/technology. It’s a classic chestnut. Exchanging conversation budget for technology budget never, ever works.
Ask any enterprise executive what there IT budget is for collaboration systems. You will likely get a precise dollar figure. Then ask what the budget is for conversation… and you will get a dopey stare. That’s a major problem.
Fact is, in well-led, collaborative organizations, proximate interaction and STSP activity increases along with performance and prosperity. Effective STSP conversation saves money.
Don’t misuse resources for information sharing. Travel for proximate, deterministic information activities is a disgraceful waste. Replace it with authentic, STSP conversation to improve performance AND save money.
Again, invest, build and strengthen your STDP, DTSP and DTSP programs and activities for management, training, discussion, projects, programs, planning and information diffusion.
For knowledge creation, innovation, engagement and leadership, STSP, authentic conversation, carries the day. Always has, always will. Invest in conversation; invest in people.