Jan 25, 2010

Connectedness and Transparency

Building open organizations that embrace radical transparency is not easy. It is resisted by the powers that are.

Whenever people want to open up anything that was guarded and secret - there are always people who are threatened.

These can be the Supreme Court in India (which is saying that the Right to Information does not apply to it) or the big-wig editors in the Media (who question the right of bloggers to question them).

However, there have been organizations even before the age of social media who have implemented radically transparent systems like shown in the book Maverick by Ricardo Semler.

So here's a Harvard article that puts together example of research that the uber-connected organization actually benefits more.

Recent research provides evidence that there are business benefits to becoming an über-connected organization:
  • Access to social media improves productivity. According to Dr Brent Coker from the Department of Management and Marketing at University of Melbourne in Australia, workers who engage in "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing" are more productive than those who don't. "People who surf the Internet for fun at work — within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office — are more productive by about 9% than those who don't," he says. "Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos on YouTube, using social networking sites like Facebook or shopping online under the pretense that it costs millions in lost productivity, however that's not always the case."
  • Millennials will seek jobs that encourage the use of social media. Those born between 1977 and 1997 — the ones you need to hire to replace the retiring boomers — are networked 24/7 and expect the company to accommodate pervasive connectivity. An Accenture survey of Millennial preferences for various technologies at work found that they prefer to communicate via instant messaging, text messaging, Facebook and RSS feeds. What's more, they are prepared to bypass corporate IT departments if these tools are blocked. One Millennial MBA, typical of those we meet, says, "I need to access my Facebook in order to do my job." Has blocking Facebook today become the equivalent of denying an employee access to a phone at work 40 years ago or email 20 years ago?
  • Companies that provide access to social media create a more engaged workforce. Take the case of Cerner Corporation, the health IT firm. In 2009, Cerner implemented uCern, a corporate social network. In 2010, it will extend this social network to its customers and suppliers. Why? Because uCern has demonstrated significant business benefits to Cerner such as allowing employees to have increased access to experts across the globe, reducing the cycle time from discovery of new products to launch of new products, and increasing employee engagement and satisfaction in the workplace.
As we scan the workplace of the future, we see that everything we know about work — where we work, how we work, what skills we need to stay employable, what technologies we use to connect with colleagues — is changing. And these changes will only continue to accelerate as we move toward 2020, as the Millennial Generation will comprise nearly half of the workforce by 2014.