Over at Work Talk Research, I’ve written a short introduction to a big idea that I call Open Work. I use the term ‘work media’ to refer to the enterprise social networking tools that are being rapidly adopted in business these days, but I think the basic premises for those tools are too limiting and limited.
Stowe Boyd, A Model For Open Work Media
I am deep into a number of writing projects, including a report on the state of work media tools (aka enterprise social networking), but a set of ideas keep coming forward in my thinking, so I decided to take a moment to capture them.
The short form of these ideas is this: the work media tools we are using today cover only a small part of the ambit of activities that make up our work.
The longer version? Work media tools are designed to handle a small set of use cases that are oriented toward collaborative activities, such as sharing documents, assigning tasks, and core business functions, like sales and customer support. These tools take a great deal for granted, and have built-in fundamental premises about the closed nature of today’s work, so that a broad range of activities that we are actually involved in every day are either managed only in part, or managed outside of these tools altogether.
A simple example has to do with project work. Today’s tools are geared toward managing a project once it has been defined, and once the various team members have been identified. A work context is defined, people are invited, and work commences. But these leaves aside all the work that preceded the project, such as cost estimates, negotiations with freelancers, proposals to the client, and so on.
Yes, it is true that these other activities could have been managed as independent and earlier projects themselves, and that is, in a sense, my point. But in general, much of that earlier coordinative effort — especially negotiation — is unmanaged, or managed via email or other interactions.
And the largest gap in the orientation of today’s work media tools is that they are almost completely closed: they are organized so that only people that are invited to participate in well-defined projects can gain access at all. With very few exceptions, nothing created or managed within these tools can be shared with the outside world, or even between other users of the various systems.
Go read the complete article at Work Talk Research.