Control when needed

rocket by jurvetson
Respecting Control:
[Via A Journey In Social Media]

We are in a time of change and new innovations. This impacts how we interact with each other. It will take a while to work out all of the kinks but we have a nice discussion of some of them here.

Posting Of Sensitive Documents

Much angst and concern exists in corporate social media projects around this issue — everyone wants to encourage more sharing and collaboration, but not every internal document is meant for every employee’s eyes.

And there’s no easy answer.

Push the pendulum too far in one direction, you’ll end up with hundreds or thousands of gated discussions that just end up being a fancy dumping ground for documents that no one can read, and no one can discuss.

We’ve lived in this world, we don’t want to go back to it.

Push the pendulum too far in the other direction, and there will be a backlash against the corporate social media problem. It’s a reality of the corporate world that not everything can be shared with everyone.

We’d like to avoid onerous corporate policies, content review processes, etc. — all the 1.0 backlashes that can result when people think something has gotten a bit out of control.

Working out the distinct elements of these contradictory needs (openness vs. hiddenness) can have huge impacts on an organization’s ability to succeed. The Intelligence agencies of the US are an example where the posting of internal documents must be controlled due to secrecy issues.

Yet, they created Intellipedia which has had a huge effect on their ability to accomplish their mission. The issue is risk management, not risk avoidance.

Making everything open is not really management, or it is the weakest form of management. Just as keeping everything closed is not really management either. The key is finding a level of risk management that actually enhances the efforts.

A particular problem of these technologies is that they are often started by individuals that want to enhance their own productivity. They put up documents because it helps them and their groups. But this is where problems happen.

A very senior individual in the organization expresses significant concern and anxiety for posting of sensitive document — and isn’t quite sure how to handle the situation.

Posting individual makes a strong case for increased information sharing across the organization as a part of better business practices and the general good. In theory, yes, but …

Very senior individual makes a strong case for more restrictive policies, review, enforcement, policing, etc. of the social platform. Wants to do the right thing, but damage exceeds benefit in their eyes now.

Now, everybody is unhappy. Instead, the discussion should be on the management side, not the risk side. And guys at the top are more responsible for risk than guys lower down. So, their concerns need to be respected.

Put plainly, if you’re in charge of a business unit or function, you should have some say in what sort of things get broadly shared, and what sort of things have a more limited internal audience.

And having an internal social media platform with lots of proficient people who tend to share everything they come across shouldn’t take that measure of control from those senior individuals.

Social media is supposed to empower people, and not render them powerless. And that list of empowered people should include very senior managers and executives.

As we work out the social mores for these behaviors it is important to put a little thought into the process. Just because something is cool or important does not mean it has to be made available to all.

And as we respect control more, those in responsible positions will respect freedom more. And remember this,

Mistakes Will Be Made

Many of us who are active on the social platform have made the same mistake — we’ve broadly shared something we thought was interesting, but we missed the fact that someone who has responsibility might not agree with us.

The recovery formula is pretty simple:

– immediately apologize and admit the mistake
– offer to take the document immediately down
– acknowledge their concerns and right to control certain kinds of information being widely shared
– express a sincere intent to do better in the future
– and apologize again

Respect has to work both ways for these tools to be effective. The leaders need to know that most information can be more effective when spread and the users need to realize that the leaders exert ultimate control.

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2 thoughts on “Control when needed”

  1. I am highly skeptical that pharma will openly share knowledge. There is too much invested in the research to be openly sharing it. Science 2.0 is likely to have an impact behind the firewall, where we currently use it, and only with platforms that provide robust security built in like Jumper ( and Jive ( that we chose because they allow us to control individual and group level access as well as provide audit trails.

  2. I totally agree that most of the Science 2.0 approaches in pharma will take place behind the firewall (although there have been a few experiments with opening up databases and software), with either open source or proprietary solutions. The benefits are too obvious.

    But technology is also only part of the solution when it comes to control. There are group norms of behavior that also have to be dealt with.

    Creating a culture that knows when to share, when not to and how to deal with the occasional mistake may be more important than the specific type of platform to use.

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