‘Groups’ an important concept in enterprise2.0

By August 30, 2007 20 Comments

When I think about enterprise2.0 I think lightweight collaboration.  For a while now I have been thinking that easy to use shared work spaces like Huddle and Basecamp is the main component.  Recently I have started to think that micro-blogging is also important (status updates to Huddle anyone?).

Today I am thinking ‘Groups’ is an equally important concept.

The thought comes from Clay Shirky, FOUR WHOLE YEARS AGO in this piece (thanks to JP for the tipoff in Social Software is Political Science in Executable Form – with a title like that I was always going to read it).

Collaboration happens in groups.  Without groups there is no collaboration – they are as fundamental as that.  As well as being important they are far from simple.  As Clay points out they have goals, membership processes and rules that govern behaviour.

As an example from venture capital, we form groups to execute deals.  They are small, limited time, single purpose groups formed to manage deal execution through to completion.  Membership is by invitation only and mandatory for those invited.  Membership processes and rules are rarely defined explicitly, but come from the roles of the different participants – investor, lawyer, advisor, investee, supplier, client etc.  Unfortunately there is no easy online tool that we use (there are tools I have tried to use, but that is a different story…).

There are of course many different types of group.  Others are much larger, have more permanence and more fluid rules and purposes.

Finally, they exist in many different places – Facebook, mailing lists, project management software, collaboration tools, etc. etc.

A lot of complexity!

And a pressing need for tools to manage it :).  In a simple, lightweight, non-proscriptive fashion of course.  Which won’t be easy – but there is a lot of value there for the company that gets it right.