Building Intelligent Organizations #e2conf

Sara Roberts (President/CEO, Roberts Golden Consulting, Inc.) and Dr. Margaret Schweer (Managing Principal and Researcher, Tammy Erickson & Associates) are the speakers. This session focused on some “deeply embedded organizational assumptions that are no longer valid …and why they are no longer relevant.” They also discussed how “organizations will need to evolve to become Intelligent Organizations.”

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2012 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Assumption #1: The Purpose of Collaboration is Obvious. Not so much. There is business case for the organization, but we also must understand the individual’s view: in what ways does collaboration help me do my job? Remember that collaboration is a volutary activity so we need to give individuals a good reason to collaborate.
  • 10 Collaboration Intents. These are the situations in which collaboration makes most sense: Connecting previously unconnected ideas; co-creating products, services, experiences; engaging stakeholders (markets, communities, employees, partners); tapping people, expertise or other resources, as needed; coordinating in time and space; distributing work cost or risk; sensing emerging patterns (trends, opportunities, threats); pooling judgments; polling to gather input or determine group-wide preferences; coalescing around an emerging consensus, after debating multiple views.
  • Assumption #2: Bigger is Better. The rule is not necessarily go big or go home. Rather, understand that organizations have a rhythm, a pattern. Enrollment begins at the individual level, one person at a time. Initial deployments often start with small groups focused on accomplishing specific tasks. These initiatives can then be scaled up as they demonstrate value and gather a solid base of users capable of spreading the word about the technology.
  • Assumption #3: Build it and they will come. Not really. Collaboration is sustained not because of a whiz bang technology platform, but because it is nurtured at the level of the individual. Trust builds quality content, which in turn attracts more contributions. Community management is an important role to help nurture contribution and collaboration.
  • [They skipped Assumption #4 due to lack of time.]

  • Assumption #5: The Real Value in Collaboration is Connecting People to Content. No. We don’t want to create the “document mortuary.” We don’t want to simply digitize our physical workplace. Rather, we need to connect people to each other in new and meaningful ways, and then change the way we work together. The new way of working is “narrating your work.” What does this mean? [It can’t just be about explaining how you do what you do since we don’t always understand exactly what we do. See my earlier piece on Topspin and KM.] For people who are interested in learning more, the presenters suggest looking at Susan Ambrose’s work in the education area.
  • Collaboration Readiness Audit. You should assess your organization’s readiness for collaboration. This focuses on decision making, processes, diversity, culture, for example. If the organization does not value creativity, it may be difficult to foster collaboration.
  • HR and KM. One rich area for HR is in the knowledge space. HR knows the culture and can help with knowledge-sharing, transparency and collaboration initiatives.