Collaborating in a Social Era – A pragmatic take on common challenges in the digital age.

Oscar Berg Book

Two weeks ago I was travelling back from the US and given that I am one of the people who struggle with sleeping on planes I had armed myself with some inspiring things to do – among these to read the new book “Collaborating in a Social Era” by Oscar Berg.

I have been following Oscar for quite a few years and time and again his blog posts have provoked my thinking around collaboration and also how we organise not only our digital environments but also the very organisations we all belong to.

After reading the book I wrote down some of my immediate thoughts and after getting both feet back on the ground my initial succinct summary still captures the essence:

A great overview of the tactical challenges that organisations face when it comes to collaboration today. This book introduces some very useful frameworks for addressing this in both a programmatic and pragmatic way.

Oscar takes you on a journey through the new reality of doing business and tackles the common challenges that both organisations but certainly also individuals face when they collaborate with peers both inside and outside the organisation. The content pivots around three key themes: Proximity between people, the ability to find information, and the role of communication. These themes help the reader in connecting the dots and create a red thread through the book.

A good example of the pragmatic approach the book takes is the chapter around emails. While most people agree that email can be used more efficiently, there is also little doubt that it will go away any time soon. You have lemons, make lemonade – something that is captured nicely in this quote:

It is perhaps a bit naive to expect the people who created the institution and are dependent on its existence will destroy it. Only visionaries and leaders will be able to do it. (Page 117)

5 communicationIf I were to point at two key chapters, one would be “The 5 principles of collaborative collaboration” where Oscar introduces Openness, Transparency, Participation, Conversation, and Recognition as key for successful collaboration. This may not be ground breaking, but in my daily work I am time and again surprised how one or more of these aspects are overlooked and sometimes with devestating results. This simply cannot be repeated enough.

Knowledge Worker Capability FrameworkThe other chapter that I find probably the most useful and that I personally would have liked to see elaborated even further is the Knowledge Work Capability Framework. The model and the 9 capabilities outlined here contain a lot of great thinking but maybe I would go as far as to say that this could warrant a book written on this topic alone tackling each of the capabilities with some live examples from companies that succeed with this. I will keep a close watch on Oscar’s blog to see how this framework expands in the future.

Is this a book for you? Well, If you are an expert on the topic of social business and collaboration this may not be the book for you although some of the models such as the Knowledge Work Capability Framework may give you something to think about. If you, however, is getting started on your journey and are looking for a way to both introduce the basic concepts of social collaboration and provide som framing for your thoughts “Collaborating in a Social Era” is a good place to start.

(Illustrations from the book are available on Flickr)


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