All good chess players understand the risks of the moves they make on the board and the consequences that can result. However, chess players also have plans in place for what to do if those risks are taken advantage of by their opponents. Here are some of the risks of not making the investment in collaboration (taken from “The Collaborative Organization“)
Inability to Stay Competitive
As competitive pressures continue to increase, innovation becomes more crucial to the success of an organization. Deploying emergent collaboration platforms helps organizations surface new ideas and opportunities that can improve business performance, lead to new products or services, and cut costs. Not investing in these tools and strategies when the competition is doing it means that the organization will be inferior, at least when it comes to innovation. This is a risk that organizations cannot afford to take.
Loss of Existing Talent and Inability to Recruit New Talent
As the new workforce enters the market, organizations that do not adopt emergent collaboration solutions will be perceived as old-fashioned, not innovative, and not accommodating. This will result in great difficulty for an organization in acquiring new top talent and retaining existing top talent, especially when other organizations are making these investments. Most people don’t want to work for an organization that isn’t perceived as innovative, cutting-edge, and exciting.
Death of the Serendipity Effect
Serendipity basically refers to finding something or making something happen by chance (or by accident) or unexpectedly. Some of the greatest opportunities I have seen come out of organizations that deploy emergent collaboration solutions have been serendipitous. Organizations never know when an employee idea will result in a new opportunity, whether it is a revenue-generating or a cost-cutting opportunity. Although serendipity in and of itself is not a business use case for emergent collaboration, it is definitely a benefit. Think of how many opportunities might come about if you allow your employees to ask questions of one another or solicit feedback on ideas. Lowe’s experienced this firsthand when an employee shared an idea internally for a demo she had been doing to market a product (she was showing the ease of cleaning paint from a Teflon tray). The employee shared her idea because she was trying to get more inventory of the product, since it had been selling out. However, when other employees at other stores began replicating her demo, they too began selling out of the product, generating over $1 million in revenue for just one product in a short time. Not investing in these tools and strategies completely kills the possibility of this type of serendipity.
Employees Who Are Not Empowered or Engaged
Employees are the greatest asset of any company, and all smart companies know this. If employees are the greatest asset a company possesses, it is crucial to make sure that they have the tools they need to get their jobs done effectively and easily. Not investing in these tools may lead to disengaged employees and lower company morale. Employees want to stay competitive and relevant, and that is not possible in an organization that does not invest in these emergent collaborative tools and strategies. This is perhaps one of the greatest problems plaguing organizations today. Recently, BlessingWhite, a leading consultancy and research firm focused on employee engagement and leadership development, released an interesting report on employee engagement called the “Employee Engagement Report 2011.” That report included responses from almost 11,000 individuals from North America, India, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and China. The key findings were shocking, but the one that is most relevant is that fewer than one in three employees worldwide (31 percent) is engaged. Nearly one in five (17 percent) is actually disengaged. A study done by Gallup toward the end of 2011 also showed that the majority of American workers were not engaged in their jobs (google “Gallup employee engagement 2011” to find the report). Gallup stated, “Seventy-one percent of American workers are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive.”
Lack of Security
Employees can deploy any emergent tool and platform they want, and the organization will never know about it. This means that many data silos, information leaks, and risks can occur. Investing in these tools and supporting employees will allow organizations to maintain the sense of security they need by giving employees a place to share information and collaborate in a company-sponsored and -supported place.
Inability to Capture, Retain, and Transfer Knowledge
As knowledge and information are being shared across the enterprise, there needs to be a way to capture the knowledge. Currently, many organizations suffer from a “death of knowledge,” meaning that once something is shared or discussed, it dies because the information and knowledge have nowhere to live and there is no way for other employees to access them later.
There are plenty of other risks out there as well and I’m sure you have others you have seen at your organization, this isn’t a comprehensive list. Feel free to share and I will add them here.