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The Problem with Collaboration: Can’t Touch This

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You talk. We listen. (Not so) Simple.

Let’s trace social technologies backwards and watch them infiltrate the organizations that launched them. Social technologies carry with them an implicit demand to be heard—if not an outright demand for action.

That demand, from those voices, will—sooner or later—run smack into the command and control mentality: the top dogs who always delivered the monologues. The higher-ups and muckity-mucks who get their way.

This is a problem.

Is this a problem?

Because this problem may be the starting line for any company culture that wants to change. It won’t be pleasant. Because the kind of people that help facilitate the change are a different sort than the ones willing to tell everybody else what to do. There’s a happy move today, currently gaining cultural muscle, to identify the boss-bully in the corner office and make them play nice. This even as people throughout organizations are getting a vision for collaboration vs. command and control.


Letting employees and customers (and possibly congregants and constituents) into the smoke-filled rooms where big decisions are made. What a concept.

Groundswell offered the example of, their Idea-Exchange and the grass-root effort to excise an annoying banner that always appeared. The company denied themselves, kept listening, and eventually removed the banner they loved and their customers hated.


The problem with collaboration is really an opportunity to become adept at identifying the things that cannot/must not change and holding the rest with an open hand.



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