Social computing and knowledgeworking need new metrics

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People still talk a lot about about 2.0 adoption…as I always say, the point is not to have tools adopted but to build the ecosystem which makes them suitable. In other words that’s not the individuals who refuse / fear / don’t want / don’t kwow how to… it’s their ecosystem which makes very hard to develop.

Andrew McAfee published a very interesting note on that point, especially about the importance of the notion of time. In fact time is very well kwown excuse “I don’t have time”, “I want my team to work, they don’t have time for anything else”. Paradoxically, those managers often complain about lack of collaboration and innovation within their enterprises, and dramatically suffer from consequences of such lacks.

At first sight it’s about management. But it’s also a matter of metric and paradigm.

• A matter of metric because we don’t know how to measure time in the knowledge and immaterial economy. Years or decades ago, everything was simple : a worker produces x products an hour, the cost is y, the revenue is z. He’s a part of a process and has no autonomy in decision or organization. Today, a tipical knowledge worker may take ten days to solve a problem and generate a revenue of x, and 20 minutes to solve another problem generating the same revenue. Revenue and quality are now totally disconnected from time. Moreover he may decide to help a colleague and become objectively unproductive evenu if he contributes to create value at a global scale.

To finish with this point, he doesn’t need to be on hois shift, at his office, to work. Solving, thinking, innovating, are tasks you can achieve anywhere, anytime, that doesn’t implie a “busy” attitude.

But, as we only look for visible things, we stick to our old metrics that doesn’t match reality anymore and hace counter productives consequences : we prefer people who look busy than people that actually do their job.

• A matter a management, that’s a consequence of the metric problem. As we can hardly mesure the productivity of a knowledge worker, we focus only on attitudes. Looking busy is politically correct, but I’m affraid it causes lack of productivity especially for people who have to think a lot to find new solutions.

• A question of paradigm, because has McAfee says, the individual who takes time for social computing is affraid of being told he’s not working enough. That implies that participating, sharing, collaborating….is not considered as working, although they are known as big stakes for the enterprise.

Perharps the change in paradigm is the biggest stake in 2.0 adoption, because it will cary change in management and in metrics. Because entreprise 2.0 needs new management and metrics to be efficiently adopted.