On participation

I was listening to the radio this week when I heard an interview with a film producer on triple j. Of special note was the comment by the female dj that perhaps casting for movies should be done the same way as decisions are made in those reality tv shows. Just sms your vote! The film producer was aghast at such a thought! In contrast, the dj’s suggestion was just an obvious manifestation of what is already happening within her demographic’s frame of reference.

And this is where the demographic fundamentals will be working in businesses today. Participation isn’t something the management requests when it suits them, oh no! In a culture where participatory decision-making and social networking are becoming second nature, the workplace will need to adapt as well.

At the same time, the very same set of younger generations have not only been brought up with a hefty dose of reality tv but they have also been participants in the internet revolution. To them, the web and all it can do is as normal as a mobile phone.

Enter web 2.0 (the term web 2.0 was actually born in 2004) and add gen x, y and z.

The web-savvy generations with their penchant for personal networks and participatory decision-making are gradually working their way now (and in the future) into the very dna of organisations across the globe. The norms of organisational decision-making in those post-Fordist managerial hierarchies are looking a tad less secure in the 21st century.

For managers, we need to foster this connectedness and participatory zeal in our workplaces. We can assist with a suite of web 2.0 applications (RSS, blogs, wikis, social computing) that enhance the level of participation and communication among our people and our people-networks. And we can allow and actively encourage the participation, the networks and the conversations to take place inside our businesses because it is through these interactions and participation that we generate real organisational value competitive advantage.

Participation and web 2.0 are a great combination so let’s use them to the best of our advantage. [Check out this Ross Gitten’s article for some more reasons to treat your employees well].


3 responses to “On participation

  1. Brad – in talking with our customers (I’m with BEA), we’re hearing a lot of interest from executives along the lines of what you’re describing. There’s almost this gap where employees want the participatory zeal, and management wants it too. how to make it happen is, of course, the question.

    Tools are a good, along with the commitment of management and/OR the willingness of early adopters to try things out. Users can be the drivers of this change, not just management.

    We just released an assessment too that surveys companies’ interest and readiness for web 2.0 inside the enterprise. It is actually a fun, interactive experience, as opposed to a typically dry survey. If you’re interested, check it out here: http://getsocial.bea.com


  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I went to the site and tried to get in but my organisation was rated too small and I was turfed onto another site! So, I didn’t get to check out the info that I assume was deeper into the site than what I was able to penetrate.

    Nevertheless, there is a fundamental organisational tension between participation and control.That tension will be exacerbated as new entrants to the workforce bring their own participatory and networked frames of reference to the organisation. They also regard a range of technology tools as part of everyday life and will expect them as part of their organisational association as well.


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