Value in collaboration is created by individual actions.
In building value for organisations through social collaboration we often resort to discussing the group, the team, the community and the network. There is lots of literature that references these terms and makes recommendations at these levels. Applying traditional business thinking we can lose sight of the individual and focus only on aggregates.
Networks don’t connect. Individuals take advantage of a network to connect with other individuals. Networks don’t share. Individuals share information in networks. The further we move into working, solving and innovating in networks the clearer it is that the value is created by individual actions multiplied by the power of a network.
Focusing on these individual actions is important because it reminds us to study individual motivations, mindsets and behaviours in the creation of effective collaboration. A culture of collaboration exists only in the expectations and behaviours of individuals. More importantly it enables us to talk to individuals about the value & practices of collaboration in language they understand. Nobody says to themselves ‘I need to engage transparently and collaboratively with an enterprise community’. People are looking to advance their work and their personal goals in tangible ways. People articulate often abstract concepts like generosity, authority, reciprocity, enagagement and trust in terms of very tangible actions in everyday work.
Aggregates give us opportunities to talk in lofty terms. Abstract capitalised bound abound. Many of these nouns seduce us with appeals to ideals not everyday actions. Real value is created with change driven using the language of individual users. If you value the individual, they will return the favour.