"Get back to work!" It's the battle cry of the hard-nosed, get-it-done, productivity-focused manager. It was also the battle cry of my colleague J. Peter Bruzzese in a recent post, "If you must have in-house social tools, go with SharePoint," where he questioned the wisdom of encouraging employees to electronically socially network, when really they should be focusing on the work at hand instead.
One question, and it's key: In 2011, what constitutes work?
Practice over process
A while back, I introduced the notion of business practices. In case you missed it (or in case your memory of my brilliant insights isn't as detailed as my memory of my brilliant insights), a practice -- which might be team-based, hub-and-spoke-based, or single-actor-based -- is an alternative to process, the usual way of thinking about how to organize work.
It's analogous to the difference between old-style Cobol programming, where instructions are arranged in a procedural flow, and service-oriented programming, where a core orchestrator module invokes independent, encapsulated modules when and as needed.
In similar fashion, process designs tend to be factory-style assembly-line affairs, where work proceeds according to a more or less fixed flow. Practices are more flexible and fluid, with the actors invoking whatever business functions and capabilities the situation demands.
What does this have to do with in-house social media? Only everything.
End times for knowledge management
Businesses rely on practices far more than it might seem. All forms of analysis? Check. Application development? Yes. Insurance underwriting, loan processing, mortgage securitization (I didn't say practices always produce great results), supply chain management, strategic planning, sales, copywriting, layout and design, and broad-based basics like hiring and communication?