Friday, November 09, 2007

The social enterprise

Alex Iskold has written a post on the "social enterprise" where he evangelizes the use of wikis, blogs, etc in enterprises. I am (of course?) all in favor for that. But the way Alex describes "enterprises" and the way they work seems at least partially wrong to me: what Alex describes does not apply to the large corporation I have insight in. Two things:
  1. Large corporations are not organized in a top-down, hierarchical fashion, where communication is required to bubble up the chain of command and down in another department. Rather, they are organized in a matrix fashion, where the project hierarchy and the line hierarchy are intermingled and therefore communication is intermingled as well.
  2. There is not a lack of communication. If anything, there is an overflow. Workers in large corporations are scared to come back from holiday, because they know their email inbox will contain several hundred emails. So the issue is the necessary amount of communication.
Again, wikis and blogs are fine. I use them all the time and could not work without them anymore. But, wikis and blogs are not able to address another problem of knowledge management in corporations: lack of time to write things down that are not absolutely necessary to be written down. I doubt that tools can solve this problem.

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