Sunday, September 16, 2007

Collaboration ... The Other Side

I came across a very nice article by Prof. Karl-Erik Sveiby. This article is looking at something a lot of us are not questioning in the current climate of Web 2.0. The reason I am talking about this is because this is a sobering thought ... Whether collaboration is all that it is made out to be.

The article argues that a lot of the value that we see released in the marketplace is due to competition, rather than collaboration. Valid point. In addition to this, the article makes the point about Groupthink becoming a real issue when collaboration begins to work very well.

Both are extremely valid points. Though, the way I see it, this is looking at a rather narrow definition of the concept of collaboration. Let us look at collaboration from two different perspectives: Collaboration in the marketplace ... Another name for this is networking. Something we do all the time. And, we havent waited for Social Networking tools to come up, to start networking. I have written before about this, and this is essentially collaboration. Another perspective on collaboration ... that is within the organization. This seems to be obvious ... Hence, I would think Dr. Sveiby is talking about the former perspective.

Having said all of this, the fact remains ... There is no way we can measure the value, or the contribution of collaboration to business success. If sales increase after a KM program has been implemented, there is nothing to show that these wouldnt have happened without the KM program. Essentially, there are no straightforward causal relationships between knowledge and financial performance, much less between KM and financial performance. The only way we can do this is through a suitable proxy ... Which means we need to be careful in selecting a particular proxy. There are a number of tools for doing this. Balanced Scorecard is something that is touted as a framework that could be used, but a lot of people dont really understand the details of the framework. I dont, either. But, the fact is, we need to look at the applicability of the framework to our business scenario. Having said that, if we work backwards from the business strategy, we can come up with a set of proxies for measuring KM, each mapping to a particular aspect to the corporate strategy. Issue is, moment we look at a set of measures, the interrelationships between these measures tend to fall by the wayside.

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