My mother worked for a company that blocked employees from accessing the Internet. This was back in the 1990′s — the pre-historic era. I remember having conversations with her lamenting the handicap, because there was much she could research and give her clients much better service. Back then, senior leadership made the assumption employes would rather play bingo online or watch porn. Times haven’t changed for many organization, but for some it has, which begs the question. Are new social technologies improving productivity of knowledge works?
That business was and remains a stovepipe — one that thrives on command-and-control hierarchy at the expense of human and information capital. Today, things are changing rapidly a la Drucker, who favored decentralized organizational culture and being “big fish in little ponds,” as framed in INC’s article, The Wisdom of Peter Drucker from A to Z.
Not much has changed in many organizations. I am lucky to work where progressive view prevails. In “Social Media’s Productivity Payoff,” a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, James Manyika, Michael Chui, and Hugo Sarrazin tell us social technologies “raise the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers — the kind of workers who help drive innovation and growth.”
While there are many social widgets, plugin, apps and “left-hand dufinators” for us to use — and many more in the pipeline coming to use via Silicon Valley, a nerd’s apartment, and all point between — I’ve found one that could revolutionize email. But I’m not going to talk about here.
Instead, I want you to think about your Outlook box at work. Does it frustrate you? If you’re like me, Outlook is something you use because there’s nothing else to us. Sure, it’s good for scheduling appointments, keeping contacts organized, but the actual email function is a nightmare — at least for me. But new social technologies can improve collaboration and communication within and across a company. And this is twice as valuable than the B-to-C and B-toB social technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
Further evidence shows business lose a lot of information to the black holes email create the authors call this “”dark matter” of company knowledge that is buried in email inboxes and on hard drives.”
So, this post is for you. What’s your beef with Outlook? What would you like to see change to make it a powerful, social collaboration tool at work?