Since today collaboration means solving problems together, it’s important companies provide their employees with a problem solving framework.
Why not a methodology or a process ?
In fact both are needed but the most important lack is about the framework.
There are high level issues where problem solving needs a strong methodology, a dedicated taskforce (that’s what I saw I Bell Canada for example). What doesn’t prelude crowdsourcing.
In the other hand, in people’s day to day job, it not necessary to build and heavy and expensive system, but to provide people with a framework which will make it possible for people to find by themselves.
The notion of framework is very important because since what people have to solve wasn’t predictable (if it was it wouldn’t have happen…), and if we want people to use a methodology (or even serendipity), the first thing to do is to make it possible, and provide them with what’s necessary : raw materials, tools and methodoly. And the possibility to use them !
– Raw materials : it means making experience, knowledge, expertise (and the people who detains it) available, the storytelling of everyday’s problem solving. I’m not talking about KM tools of course. I was attending Claude Malaison’s final keynote at an event dedicated to internal communication in Paris a few weeks ago and I heard this interesting discussion :
– Claude : do you have KM tools ?
– The audience : Yeeees !
– C : are they efficient ?
– One person : yes…but only for codified knowledge.
The discussion didn’t wen further because it was not the point people were here for, but this is an essential issue. We’ve been knowing for years that 80% of the enterprise’s knowledge is informal, not condified. Companies used to manage only the 20% that are formal, that’s far from being enough in a knowledge economy. Storytelling, discussions…more or less organized, provoked or imposed. That takes us to the second point.
– Attitude : solving problems is not only a matter of tools and raw materials, it’s about attitude. It’s also a culture to be spread and a management style. This is the key point because people need to know what they can do and how to do it when a problem happens. That’s not when things happen that people have to learn how to deal with them, they must have practiced, it may be a reflex, a common attitude.
– Tools : nothing to add, social software is knowing on companies’ doors.
– Methodology : absolutely necessary when things become more complexe. But useless if nothing is done to make it appliable everyday, when needed.
It’s a little bit like with insurance : it’s when accident happens that you know why you paid your insurance premium. Organizing such a framework is protecting the organization against daily imponderable which cost, if companies wanted to calculate it, would be huge and due to the only fact people have neither the needed materials, neither tools, neither the latitude to treat them correctly in a system that makes them doing what’s planed not allow room to do what’s needed.
What if “distributed problem solving” was to the knowledge economy what planifications and methods were to the industrial world