After the sillies with witnit.com, I was noticing all the big and small players are humping the workplace collaboration camel again. Trouble is, they all want to sell it to dysfunctional big companies with rigid hierarchies, who would actually pay.
It won't happen. For 30 years at the old company, I tried bring things in. I was just trying to settle for forums, and maybe wiki-type pages. Nope. They still go with Outlook email with monstrous cc lists which each person likes to fiddle with. But all the email releases (from MS) got all the bosses spooked, so they would never say anything on email that would nail them to the wall. Everything got done through a single channel (phone or meeting) where you were told what to do, and on your head be it! Practically every company works this way.
Why is this? In an organization stricken with old-company disease, the fundamental political schema is feudal. Each person (who wants to advance) spends 90% of his time looking up. Every email is written with that in mind. Hopes are dashed on the rocks of mistakes, since there is no currency on accomplishments. The organization is self-similar to the top in that each person wants nothing to leak out from below.
Can we put 'collaboration' into this? Only for people working next to each other, and what the heck. Is there a case where a hierarchy went full hog into this, and freely gave up their power? No, each person protects himself by stashing knowledge or warm bodies.
I've always pushed a three-layer organization, that would be immune from old-company disease.
First layer - the wealth creators, rewards on the money created.
Second layer - the helpers to the first layer (most important thing in a corporation, or you might as well be all individuals. Rewards based on reviews by the first layer.
Third layer - The Corporate Layer. Lawyers, accounts, people who face the regulators. In this layer would be the money men who would flit around, and determine compensation. Wealth creators might be paid more than anyone here.
Modern technology, like this 'new age' groupware, could make this work. Everybody would have a chromebook that couldn't do print screens. Everybody would have a video feed that was always on, and people could watch random feeds, and use it for communication. People could 'check out' pdf's for reading on tablets and such, but all communication would be done on the chromebooks. Encryption would be pub/priv key at the chromebook. Everyone would have to write digests often for legal purposes, or the equivalent to diaries. Politically incorrect blurts would disappear in the virtual meetings which could not be archived as they are encrypted.
Could IBM go this way? Fat Chance! New companies could.
Additional thought: Even new companies are entrenched in power roles immediately. Take a certain electric car company. It's founder is a brilliant ah-hole who likes to fire people on the spot. They all work in giant arena with just a tiny desk each. This is a flat organization like my ideal. But will it scale? No, the next layer will all want to protect themselves from the caprices of the boss. And so on. Could a new company form whose founder doesn't want to play god? Has it ever happened?
Thought2: I realize I'm completely wrong on one thing. If you want to sell to other dysfunctional hierarchal companies, then you need to match them. I just found out that Amazon Web Services has a huge bureaucracy, and one million business customers who want to make money on the Web. Silly me.