Connect Employees to Employees

Connect Employees to Employees


If knowledge assimilation throughout an organization is the goal, what’s the path that leads there? Enterprise applied-knowledge sharing applications are part of the answer.

Lotus Notes was one of the earliest providers of peer-to-peer shared workplace communications tools. Newer enterprise platforms include Base camp, Desk Away, Lotus Connections, SharePoint, and Social text. Regardless, they all provide straight forward whole-organization implementations that can be adapted for nearly any application. For those with very specific needs, or simply a sense of adventure, programming frameworks like Drupal can be used to create solid internal (and external) infrastructures from the ground up. However you choose to build your organizational applied knowledge sharing platform, the essential objectives are covered in the following section.


Clear Policies

The first element of any social or collaborative undertaking is setting out clear policies. Applicable to any social technology application, establishing up front who can post, what they can and cannot say, what the rules of conduct are, etc. Most organizations will quickly recognize the need for such policies on external efforts: If not, the in-house legal team will quickly step in. The same considerations apply internally. Employee lawsuits and the issues that cause them are avoidable: Too many out-of-the-box intranet and knowledge-sharing applications are still launched without an adequate policy review. That’s a roadmap to trouble. You can use Google to search for Intel’s, IBM’s, or similar organizations’ policies on social computing: They will provide a great starting point.


Specific Business Objectives

PROFS and later Lotus Notes at Progressive in the late ’80s and early ’90s, there was an overall business objective along the lines of “connecting people and tapping synergies” but not a lot else in the way of a definition or expectation. It was as much an experiment in innovation processes as a defined strategy for an amiable communication. To this very point the idea of connecting employees in ways that broke existing hierarchies was new and the concept appealing. Progressive has always been a dynamic, innovative company, and so a certain amount of pure experimentation fit into its culture. At the same time, not too long after rollout it became apparent that a lot of unstructured conversation was taking place, at least partly because the 1,000 employees at the time realized for the first time they could talk to anyone else in the organization instantly. Because there were no specifically articulated and measurable objectives, it was hard to push back against it, to channel the energy where it would do some prominent business.

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