The previous post raised two challenges organizations face in capturing the potential of social media. One was the view that social media is a technology and that was discussed in the post. The other relates to the need for executives and managers to evolve their approach to managing mass collaboration.
Mass collaboration describes a type of community-based collaboration that occurs when a large and diverse group of people who may have no preexisting connections pursues a mutual purpose that creates value. Mass collaboration is based on achieving a shared goal (the purpose) without predefining the means to achieve that goal, or mandating who is involved in the community.
Enterprises looking to bring this style of collaboration into their organization need to resolve a fundamental paradox of having managers keep responsibility for results while simultaneously letting go of the means of producing those results. Otherwise the collaborative community becomes just another form of a predetermined corporate task force.
In researching The Social Organization book, we found that organizations resolved this dilemma by creating a different style of management—one based on guiding the community rather than directing or defining its means of success.
Guiding management concentrates on creating a positive environment for collaboration, contribution and innovation to achieve a goal rather than controlling the processes and activities involved in reaching that goal.
Guiding management is like a caddie in professional golf. Pro caddies are highly accomplished golfers, but they never take a shot. Rather they provide advice, make suggestions the pro is free to accept or reject. The caddie’s rewards are based on the golfer’s performance no matter how good the caddie’s advice and council.
Guiding management is also like a good concierge at a hotel, where they create value by making suggestions, arranging reservations, matching the guest’s interests with the context of the city. They rarely take the guest by the hand and show them the sites.
If you have worked on a high performing team, then you experienced guiding management.
Guiding management exists in collaboration where it plays three specific roles in collaborative communities giving ‘just enough structure’ to resolve the paradox between being responsible for the end goal, by letting go of the means. These roles are:
- Guiding from within the community to foster participation, contribution, and sharing. We have called that guiding toward participation.
- Guiding the community and its progress toward its purpose. Here the sponsor/manager looks at the progress the community is making toward achieving its purpose.
- Finally, guiding occurs at the organizational level where the sponsor/manager works to connect the community’s innovation and ideas with the organization’s larger change processes and operations. Making that connection gives the community scale and guides the organization toward performance.
The existence of guiding management is fundamental to becoming a social organization as it provides ‘just enough structure’ to enable executives and management to give control of the means to the community in exchange for a more innovative and powerful result. This requires hard work and a special type of leader, but organizations that have ‘let go of control’ to ‘let in collaboration’ find that it a basis for tapping the collective genius of their customers and employees.
Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald are the co-authors of Fall 2011 book, The Social Organization: How to Use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Customers and Employees.
The Social Organization Book’s Facebook Page