we all just want to be valuable

So we all talk about the benefits of collaboration (or at least all of us within a very narrow circle), but I rarely hear any discussion of one of the most critical components to unlocking potential productivity.

Most knowledge workers I know (and this varies widely with where they work) do not feel as though they are living to their potential.

When people have a sense of mission, that they are striving toward something meaningful, and that their contribution is making a significant difference along that path, then they are motivated and focused. They make decisionss, they don’t waste time, they are excited to be there.

This is the role of leadership. To ensure tht people have a mission and a vision that makes sense to them and that it is clear to them how their work forwards those goals.

Another great thing this does is to help people make the many decisions they need to in a way that will always tilt toward the goal. Including finding problems or challenges that would prevent the organization from reaching that goal, and sharing them in a way that they can be addressed and solved.

FOr example. I’ve never seen a team get really excited about “we’re going to launch these 10 features by March or else!!” Woohoo! rallying cry. Nope. And every one of you knows it.

Now try “We’re going to take this product to the next level, and become the most useful widget this market has ever dreamed of. And we can do it by getting these 10 things done”. Better.

A collaborative environment helps people get constant affirmation that their expertise is useful and their work is valuable. A well lead collaborative organization has a fine set of leaders at every level who understand that their role is to have a mission and include their team in it.

A collaborative environment keeps people engaged and focused on the work at hand – and that makes people happy. Really. There are several books on the subject. One of the most readable is called “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience“, though there are many academic articles and books on the subject.

So imagine a workplace where the vast majority of people are engaged, valued, “Flowing”, toward your corporate mission. Would that be more productive than what you have today?

This is the goal of enterprise 2.0. A fully engaged workforce where the product of that work is instantaneously available where its needed anywhere in the organization.

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