Each year, I attend the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston to get some visibility into where social and collaboration technologies are headed. I attended the keynote speeches Tuesday, comprising eight presentations of 15 minutes each delivered rapid-fire style. This post is the second of what I expect to be three "echoes" from these keynotes.
Among the most interesting keynote presentations was "Managing People and Process Across A Networked Organization" by Jim Grubb, VP, Corporate Communications Architecture, Chief Demonstration Officer [note: what a great title!], Cisco Systems, Inc., who detailed Cisco's vision for collaboration. Jim discussed the fusion of synchronous collaboration (e.g., voice communications, and live + virtual meetings where parties are interacting with one another in real-time) and asynchronous collaboration (tools and techniques we more frequently associate with Enterprise 2.0, e.g., wikis, blogs, document-level collaboration tools, etc.).
The most interesting, and I dare say chilling, aspect of the keynote was a vision of a world where voice communications can be integrated with asynchronous collaboration tools using the following scenario:
- A meeting, either live or remote, is convened.
- The meeting is recorded for future usage ("we have so many meetings in part because we don't remember what we discussed")
- The meeting proceedings are transcribed, indexed, and stored.
- Meeting proceedings can be searched from collaboration workspaces and portals.
This scenario made me think about the potentially chilling effect of the recording on meeting participation and the free-wheeling, thinking-out-loud, spitballing, serendipitous style of collaboration so important to innovation and the creation of new ideas. This free exchange of ideas between people (also sometimes known as "Ideas Having Sex") is absolutely critical to trust.
If I knew that all of my participation in meetings and conference calls would be recorded, indexed, and forever searchable, I know that I would be far more judicious in what I said, especially in internal conversations. Perhaps we would get used to it the same way that we are used to being videotaped by ubiquitous surveillance cameras today, or recorded on customer service phone lines, but people at Enterprise 2.0 with whom I chatted about this idea (including one who knows a lot about e-discovery) shared my initial, chilled impression about the potential unintended consequences.
How we manage, culturally, to bridge the inherent conflict between the need to find and record the fruits of our information workers' labors and the need to provide safe places where colleagues can freely share ideas, even bad ones, will be fascinating to watch over the next several years, and will be critical to our success as information workers and knowledge managers.
How are you planning on balancing these conflicting needs in your organization?