Meanwhile, tens of millions of human beings routinely share their knowledge, experience, thoughts, biases, hopes, dreams, fears, and experiences -- in many cases so much so that it greatly exceeds our desire to know -- with a technologically connected community that includes many friends they've never met.
The network effect
Let's draw these threads together. Communities are built on trust. Trust depends on more than just work-oriented exchanges of information -- it depends on employees interacting as human beings. Those human beings often have no opportunity to interact face to face in real time. We know that in their personal time, many of them interact as human beings through social media.
SharePoint and competing products provide a rich social environment for encouraging community formation and informal collaboration. (Do I win ConsultantSpeak Bingo with that one?)
Your problem is unlikely to be abuse and overuse. The opposite is more likely, because we run our businesses with no expectation, let alone insistence, that we have a 21st-century workforce. In far too many cases, learning how to use the available tools in more than the most primitive ways is entirely optional. Worse, employees who become adept find it's a career-limiting move.
Yes, career-limiting: Managers, faced with one employee who is supposed to (for example) design a new workflow and document it in Visio and another who actually knows Visio, asks the latter to do the work of the former. The non-Visio-adept employee gets the credit, while the Visio-adept employee is pigeonholed as a technician.
One of the eight tasks of leadership is staffing, which includes ensuring employees acquire and practice the skills they need. If you manage practitioners -- employees who are responsible for or participate in team or hub-and-spoke practices -- part of your job is making it clear you expect them to master all the tools at their disposal that can make them more effective collaborators. Also, you must use them to actually collaborate.
If it turns out some of them also use those tools to help them manage their Fantasy Football league, be happy. It means you've succeeded.
This story, "The true value of social networking at work," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.