Coordination by proxy

So, this happened earlier this week:

Seems like a good question, right? Why are organizations taking so long to figure out effective knowledge collaboration? As my reply implies I think that the fundamental issue of knowledge {management, coordination, collaboration} is ‘wicked’ at it’s core. Here’s more on what I mean by wicked.

One contributing factor to how this problem exhibits itself, and most likely a factor that ensures that this problem persists, is that of scale. Which got me to wondering if anyone has looked at the tension of exploration vs. exploitation as a function of organizational size? A guess might be that at some point an organization becomes large enough that the cost of exploring and discovering ‘who is working on your problem’ is outweighed by simply working on your problem directly.

We have some experience with this here at Lunch Roulette. An email comes through to the info email account:

“Hello, I work at Company X in Division Y and I think this would be a fabulous tool for fostering collaboration across both my and other divisions within my Company. Can you help? Many thanks, John”

Weeks later:

“Hello, I work at Company X in Division Z and I think this would be a fabulous tool for fostering collaboration across both my and other divisions within my Company. Can you help? Many thanks, Jane”

What do we do?

“Dear Jane, Thank you for your note of inquiry! You are right, Lunch Roulette is a fabulous tool for fostering collaboration across divisions within a Company. We can most certainly help. The first stop is for you to speak to John in Division Y. We’re working with him, and he had the same idea as you. This might mean you’re facing the same kinds of problems, and it might make sense to think about them together, with us. Looking forward to working with you, Lunch Roulette”

I would imagine this happens a lot - especially for larger vendors and providers of external services. Coordination through a third-party might seem odd, but it’s really a process of ‘problem-based abstraction’, which some of our customers have actually found quite useful. I guess it’s a value-add of working with us!

Thanks for listening,

DT

 
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