Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Camelot of Collaboration

Expertise sharing regressed at Company X from the time I joined in 1983 until it was acquired by Company Y in 1998. In the 1980s, Product A Conferences were very successful Communities of Interest/Practice, with widespread and boundary-spanning participation. When Company X migrated from System B to Microsoft for office automation, it failed to similarly migrate Product A to a new platform. As a result, Product A lost its luster and usage plummeted. What had been a competitive advantage for Company X - knowledge sharing across engineering, manufacturing, sales, service, and support - was lost. Lotus came to market and was successful, whereas Product A had been there first but failed to be offered as a product. Communities of practice did not make a resurgence until much later - after Company Z aquired Company Y - and even then, not as much across organizational boundaries. Company X might have succeeded if it had continued to embrace knowledge sharing as it once had.

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