How to Foster Collaboration with Web 2.0; BBC's Advice

wiki-world.jpgOver 350 individuals, including a Forrester Research representative and blogger, gathered in Rhode Island last week for the Business Innovation Factory conference. According to Forrester's blog, Euan Semple of British Broadcasting Company shared some insight into how the company successfully adopted Web 2.0 tools. Since you were likely not in Rhode Island -- and considering that Gartner predicts Wikis will take over Corporate America by 2009 -- you may want to peruse the lessons Semple shared:
  • Enterprise Web 2.0 can be the catalyst for a more collaborative business environment. The BBC had done a lot of work to try to create a more collaborative work environment. As it turned out, the BBC's internal forums, which only cost the company about 200 pounds, got the company to be more collaborative than the more formal initiatives did.
  • Experiment, start small, and make sure ownership is clear. Using Social Computing tools at work is very different from the way most of us are used to working. Managers, for example, may need time to get used to a flatter kind of environment, where people are off doing their own thing. One thing that helped at the BBC was that the forum environment was collectively owned; this helped people take responsibility for how it was used.
  • Trust breeds trust. The BBC found that when people are given responsibility, the right tools, and a little coaching, most of them will do the right thing. And as people gain experience with Social Computing tools, the value of their efforts increases.
  • Go where you're not quite comfortable going. This is the source of innovation. At the BBC, employees were allowed to post on internal forums about anything they wanted to. Someone started a conversation about the pros and cons of being single. This evolved into something awfully close to a dating service. Managers, as you might imagine, were cringing. But before long one of the producers came to Euan Semple saying he was about to do a program on being single, and the employees who had participated in the forum about dating had done half the work for him. Great example of something that didn't seem business like ending up delivering true business value.
(Wiki World image by kaurjmeb)