Posts Tagged 'cultural firewall'

The Cultural Firewall and Intrapreneurs

Today, GovCamp was good.

If I had to pick one session that really got me thinking…

Not even session… expression…

It would be the cultural firewall.

The elephant in the room when we discuss tools and technologies that enable communication and collaboration.

The barriers to collaborative technology are dropping and have little to do with technical know-how in  2011. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and most people are capable of learning.

It’s culture. The absence of willingness to collaborate on a broad scale. And no matter how much a majority of people in large organizations are rapped over the head with benefits to collaboration and open communication, they won’t do it. In some cases it’s perceived risk. In other cases it runs much deeper.

Grudges that co-workers have harbored for well over a decade can be a huge impediment to collaboration; grudges are very common in large organizations.

How can we begin to expect bottom-up collaboration within an organization under these conditions.

Senior managers need to force these changes in practices down to middle managers and to staff. Or, the only people who will leverage the tools that organizations offer are the “intrapreneurs” who gather with like minded colleagues to develop and implement innovative ideas.

Marj Akerley and Ryan Androsoff pointed out this elephant in the room during their Innovation, Culture and Risk session, but addressing it isn’t enough to affect growth.

In some cases the 90-9-1 rule (where 90% lurk, 9% contribute and 1% lead) is acceptable and to be expected. Like the case of the Mozilla browser. In other situations we need to expect better than 9% contribution in our organizations. We need to tear down the cultural firewall one worker at a time.

Intrapreneurs can achieve a lot by working together and sidestepping the non-innovators. But not as much as an entire organization of innovators.

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