Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

If you want your company to be more innovative 6: communication and innovation openness in the face of due diligence barriers 1

Posted in HR and personnel, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on July 26, 2013

Improving a business as a competitive enterprise, and making it more effectively communicative and collaboratively innovative, can be as simple as providing employees with a place where they can come together and talk. My goal for this series is to at least briefly outline an approach for facilitating conversation and the sharing of ideas and for collaboration in a business, as an enabler of innovative excellence (see HR and Personnel, postings 165 and loosely following for Parts 1-5.)

Up to now in this series, I have been discussing the sharing and collaborative creation of information and knowledge within an organization, as challenges of scale, dispersed location and cultural differences are successively added in. See Part 1 and Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 respectively. I then wrote about the issues raised here in the context of the triple bottom line in Part 5.

But this entire narrative has been developed around a core assumption that the information, innovation and insight that are shared and collaboratively created in those progressively expanded contexts can all be openly discussed and openly accessible for employees, and certainly in-house.

• In the real world necessary constraints put limits on what types of raw data, information processed into knowledge, insight and innovation can be shared and from whom to whom and under what conditions and with what usage constraints.
• So if I have expanded out the scope and applicability of open communications and collaboration in the organization up to here,
• I turn course with this installment to acknowledge and discuss what can be essentially required and even legally mandated restrictions to that, and how to best retain the value of more open communications and collaborations even when real and significant communications barriers are in place.

The communications and information sharing barriers that I write of here all bring with them very genuine risk management and due diligence concerns, and regardless of whether they are designed and imposed from the outside, as for example by legal statute, or from the inside and as a matter of preserving exclusive access to valuable proprietary business plans, designs for new products in development or the like. And:

• The goal for this posting is to at least begin a discussion of best practices for preserving and developing as much of the value of open collaboration within the organization as possible, while acknowledging and working within the constraints of necessary barriers to it.
• I begin that with a fundamentally important observation: this is not a context where ad hoc or one-off solutions can or will work, and even – perhaps especially when you as a business manager or leader are faced with what you see as novel or one-off circumstances that would call for specific information sharing.
• Opening up the conversation and supporting more open collaboration and value creation within the organization as a whole needs to be firmly grounded in a system of established and vetted policy and practice. This system should have required and allowed flexibility and room for evolutionary change and updating built into it. And any exceptions and special cases that do arise should trigger procedures and resources already in place for managing and tracking and documenting them as exceptions.

The worst case situation that you would want to avoid would be to have a system in place, but one that is honored more in its breach than in its being followed, and where no one quite knows what information is shared with whom, when or where and for what specific reasons and where no one quite knows where shared copies of sensitive or even restricted information might be stored. I write here of situations where legal restrictions are in place, where a business would be found in violation of governing law, though the consequences can be just as bad when restrictions and their rationale are developed strictly in-house too.

I have been building a basic framework for tracking and managing the conversation in this installment, and in an open and even generic sense. And I have been citing at least in passing a number of the basic pieces of this puzzle, with consideration of who is to have access to what information, and with what tracking and documentation as to what is shared and where, and how it is stored by involved parties. I will continue this discussion in a next series installment, where I will begin fleshing out some of the details as they arise and develop in the contexts of some very specific scenarios. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel and Social Networking and Business.

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