Jeremy Thomas, over on Social Glass, asks if “Enterprise 2.0 is only relevant to doers“:
“…Management spends most of its time in meetings reporting progress and being appraised of new initiatives. Does Management really have time to make sense of all of the blog posts, wiki pages and social bookmarks in their Enterprise 2.0 Solution? I’m not sure they do…”
It’s an interesting question. In my last job, my two bosses would sit me down once a week to give them a brain dump of the ten or so different projects I was working on. They’d furiously take notes about what was under control and what was on fire so that they could report up the management chain, respond to clients, and focus my efforts.
There were two problems with this weekly ritual. One was that I was often so engrossed in in whatever I was working on on Friday that I’d forget the stuff I’d done on Monday. For fast-moving projects, they could schedule additional mid-week meetings, but that raised the second problem: The time I spent discussing status was time that couldn’t be spent on getting work done.
It’s a tricky balancing act. Much of the art of management is calibrating the frequency of status reports. Monitor too closely, and nothing gets done. Monitor too infrequently, and you miss out on important information.
A lot of this E20 stuff is about transparency — improving employee awareness within the organization. Better visibility helps managers too — perhaps more than the average employee — but they’ll need a different set of tools to search and filter social content than “doers” will. The knowledge worker needs to find content so that they can do their work. A manager of knowledge workers needs to find out about the status of that work so they can measure progress and productivity.
Managing people becomes a lot less complicated when you don’t have to constantly pester your staff to see what they are up to. Since Enterprise 2.0 encourages transparency and visibility, there’s more ways for management to find out what’s going on. Workers can spend more time working and less time on TPS reports, which increases productivity. Managers gain a more accurate picture of project status, which increases accountability and leads to better decisions.
The challenge is that managers have more data to monitor and measure, and frankly, the tools just aren’t there yet. (Though we’re working on it.) In the long run, I think management might have more to gain than the people actually doing the work.