I've been re-reading Patti Anklam's book, Net Work: A Practical Guide to Creating and Sustaining Networks at Work and in the World which covers the many different forms of networks and how they work. It covers different models for purpose, structure, style, value creation, design, leadership, and change management. I first met Patti in Cambridge during a dinner with John Smith and other colleagues from CPsquared. I had just gotten my N95 and I live streamed some of our dinner conversation.
I'm reading to help me think through a recurring theme ... "How, When, and If to Weave and/or Strengthen Networks Using Social Media." We can answer this question pretty well in the context of nonprofit organization for its external communications. Lots of best practices over at the WeAreMedia. But what about for internal coordination/collaboration?
There are online collaboration tools with social features - many of which can be used for internal coordination/collaboration. But the question of how, when, and if ...
As you can see from the above slide share deck summarizing some of the key network concepts in her book, the book is not about the technology of networks.
However, she offers an essay in the Appendix "The Technologies of Net Work." When she was writing the book in 2007, social media (both consumer and Enteprise level) were still in the early adopter stages and changing rapidly. If you remember, Facebook had just opened up to people who were not college studies. So this essay provides some contextualization and principles from online collaboration from the Web 1.0. I think some of these are still, very relevant to for organizations or networks that want to use social media for online collaboration.
Patti references a 1993 book Connections: New Ways of Working in the Networked Organization which is based on extensive studies of the effects of Internet Communication technology - e-mail, distribution lists, bulletin boards, and computer conferences - through field research as well as social and psychological experiments. As Patti notes in the essay:
Since the early 1990's, technologies to support connections have danced a mutually reinforcing dacen between the capabilities of the technology and the ways that we use them. As move into an increasingly networked world, they will be more and more important for creators and contributors of networks to learn, adopt, and adapt.
Patti includes a list of network activity:
Content creation, access, discovery and use
She also shares some basic rules for introducing online collaboration tools
- Select and match technology to meet both Network activities and those of the individuals participating in the network.
Make sure the technology is embedded in the work practices of the network
This point is about examining in detail the work practices or work flow and making sure that the technology supports it. But what if social media requires changing some of the practice or if not everyone as similar work flow.
Assign tasks that require people to use the technology (with support and training)
Give people multiple ways to learn and provide online and face-to-face coaching as well as documentation and formal training, if required.
Close down alternative or back-door communication channels
Identify and work with key nodes or influencers within the network who can be role models for using the technology