Culture change, collaberation and elephants

A colleague from the Novell European Support Centre sent me an interesting article from IBM research.

http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/442/neus.pdf

Interesting in many respects – especially seeing the ‘team drawn elephant’ exercise brought into a discussion about collaberation methods.

The key piece that I was interested in was in the culture change required to bring about such changes in communication:

1. Keep it simple. We used a few simple methods in
assessment and intervention that were accessible
to the client’s employees. We did not overload
them with methodology or jargon.

2. Find passionate people. To drive change, you
need passion. You need people who understand
and are excited about the change.

3. Do the ‘‘emperor’s clothes’’ test on the organization.
Don’t require the novice to ask the
emperor’s advisor for permission to spread the
word about change.

4. Involve me, and I will understand. Cultural
change cannot be forced; it can only be facilitated.
Nothing is as powerful a teacher as firsthand
experience. We allowed people to experience
what open-source collaboration could mean
for them in their working environment.

5. Start small, grow fast. Start small with a limited
scope and the mission to solve a concrete
problem. Demonstrate value; then grow.

A really interesting idea – that may be difficult to implement in a corporate structure – is letting individuals find out about open-source collaberation for themselves.

I agree fully that to drive change you need passionate people; my open-ended response is ‘what happens if the enthused change-agents alienate the broader population?’

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