A while ago I attended an international seminar on information management. Several well-known scientist and experts participated. Some lectures and presentations (break-out sessions) were given and a film was shown of interviews with several CIO’s of large Dutch companies.
Of this day, two things in particularly stayed on my mind.
I noticed that every CIO had his own idea about his role and influence on the company. Most interesting to me was to notice that they are not always allowed (granted) to play that role they themselves want to play. One of them – as if it was a mantra- said 4 times that: “if ýou don’t like this you’d better choose another job”.
The other CIO’s were more subtle in their observations or did not mind the situation that much. It became clear to me that CIO’s must be able to play the political game in the organisations.
From a number of presentations and lecture it came clear to me that ‘ networks ‘ and ‘ online communities ‘ are considered a threat. Especially networks formed between professionals and experts. They form groups in which information is exchanged and cooperation takes place. I responded that knowledge is created by, and innovation is stimulated within these network groups. Just by letting (external) experts and customers share thoughts creates value. But the gentlemen kept saying this is a huge safety risk. Sharing confidential data or information outside the company had to be prevented with rigour.
During coffeebreaks I could talk to the gentlemen scientist/experts and made references to articles in, among others, HBR and books about knowledge management and innovation (Nonaka, Drücker, Quin) and also referred to excisting companywiki’s and wiki’s on the Internet. But they kept giving me the impression that they do not embrace the idea at all. That these networks are benificial for knowledge growth for all participants (including the companies).
I have just read the book “Wikinomics. How mass collaboration changes everything” by Don Tapscott. It’s a great book and it almost exactly reflects my thoughts.
I can and will recommend it to the CIO’s, scientists and information managers.