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SharePoint - Subversive?

By Bill Nicolich,

People are purpose-drive to a large extent. They go to work and fight the good fight. People don't appreciate their good ideas falling on deaf ears. On one side of the communication spectrum, I've talked to DBAs that are in despair because they might spend a great deal of time crafting strategic recommendations only to have their email messages dropped into an ignore folder. On the opposite extreme, I hear about teams out there that take the communication part of the software development game so seriously that it shapes decisions about how to arrange the office space to reduce the impedance between minds.

Then there's the rest of us. We get a typical workspace and there's often little discussion about the topic of communication - only typical coping strategies.

So along comes a SharePoint license or some other virtual collaborative workspace solution. The potential becomes that perhaps a smidgen of what could have been achieved by a tight-knit co-located team armed with whiteboards, hand gestures and body language could potentially be salvaged with a tool in a browser. Fantastic.

Then the SharePoint site becomes little more than a dumping ground for documentation that will go stale. I wonder - are there teams out there that actually get to utilize the team discussion features? Do they get to experience their virtual collaborative workspace as a forum with which to make contributions, share ideas, learn about various initiatives? Do they get to participate in exploratory discussions?

Is there something subversive about this kind of activity? I don't mean that people intend to do harm to the company. What I wonder is if this kind of collaborative activity goes against the grain of typical corporate culture or something.

Perhaps if management layers have become accustomed to claiming that they are the chief source of all good ideas,  then the collaborative nature of a virtual workspace could be subversive to them.

Okay, maybe now and again a rank-and-file employee might come up with something decent, which then must be further shaped by managers - so the thinking goes.

How else can I account for the seemingly apparent lack of interest in allowing all team members to have a venue in which to share what they know or offer their take on changes in methodology so it doesn't fall into a black hole?

Perhaps there's something about my experience sample that isn't showing me the right picture. That's why I wonder if you'd treat this sort of like a survey and talk about collaboration or lack thereof in your technical environment. Is your team one that empowers non-management to make meaningful contributions, shape decisions and share insights about the technical environment?

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