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October 19, 2010


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I could not for the life of me figure out how to leave you a comment on the Cisco blog so have to leave it here -

Great points. I agree completely that the entire concept of letting employees define themselves is a departure from the traditional formal definition. And I'm waiting for the day that collaboration tools start aggregating the social feedback into a real expertise location system. (looking at comments and feedback is a good start, but not the whole answer)

I have experienced that technology does impact culture of expertise. When I worked at Sapient in the dot com days they had a great system that tracked every project every employee had ever worked on and what roles that person performed on that project. And it was searchable by project, by customer, by geography. It was astonishing, because the culture instantly rewarded people as having expertise both in their current role but also in previous roles. And where I experienced that it devalued expertise was in anything you did before you joined the firm and any external networks you were a part of. Still, for the small flaw of not seeing employees for their full background (they may have since fixed this) it was the best 'enterprise social network' I have ever experienced - and this was in the pre-facebook days of the late 90's.

I think this is where corporate culture is key. Cultures vary on how much of 'personhood' you can safely bring to your professional interactions. For me a big challenge is how tolerant the culture is of diversity both in personal backgrounds and professional backgrounds. When you start sharing facebook style updates you get into disclosures that if asked during a job interview would be illegal - marital status, family status, age. I can say personally being female and a parent in a very male-dominated field I think twice before sharing personal information in a professional environment. (I already can't help sharing my gender, which is cause enough for discrimination at times)

But this is why the social aspect of identity is so important. If the company treats you as employee #145151 and has a culture of erudite professionalism, then it may be hard to feel safe sharing personal information as you don't know how it will be received. If on the otherhand your boss captains the company softball team and your office mate runs the working mothers lunch bunch, the social sharing experience is already there - incorporating it into the collaboration tool is just a natural extension of that. Like all social systems, trust is key.

Mike Gotta

Thanks Paula!

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Great feedback and personal experience story!

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