Business Culture and SharePointHave you considered your business culture and the importance of giving opportunities to contribute.  SharePoint can help.

You may nod your head as you read this and say “I’ve heard all this before.”  But are you happy with the culture of your business?  Are you actively trying to improve it?  Read on, reflect and make some notes about what you’d like to improve in your business culture.

What is culture?

I found a good definition on Wikipedia.

Culture is that which distinguishes life in one group from life in another group; mental content, norms, institutions and physical objects, among other qualities.”

Now think of this in a business context.  Your business is a “group” or community.  The way of life in your business differs from the way of life in your family, your group of friends, shared interest groups.  You will behave differently within each group.  Your “mental content, norms, institutions and physical objects” will differ.

How do we learn culture?

We communicate the culture of a group directly or indirectly, through what we say and do and how we say or do it.
Learning culture can be approached from two directions. One direction is what is modelled to us through leadership and existing members. The other direction is what we bring of ourselves into a culture, our personal values, integrity and ethics.

How do we participate in a culture? Essentially, we look for opportunities to participate.  We adjust our behaviour and align our thinking to some extent, with the culture we participate in.  We reconcile our own personal culture with that of our business culture and bring to our workplace, a combination.

How do we convey culture?

We convey it by displaying our work, our idea’s and opinions.  We take the time to give and receive feedback.  We vary our communication levels, engaging in conversation using a mixture of methods.

How can a business better convey their culture, share their culture and give opportunities to participate in their culture?

Some businesses implement SharePoint hoping it will create a culture of collaboration.  SharePoint wont create a culture of collaboration.  But it can be a platform for participation, that can become a vehicle for collaboration.
If we learn a culture best through participation, opportunities for participation need to be offered.

SharePoint Online has a number of “out-of-box” applications and features that can be used to offer opportunities to participate.

  • Share your thoughts, opinions, give feedback through the Discussion module.
  • Upload documents and get feedback on the content using the Tag’s / Notes feature and My Sites.
  • Use the rating feature and rate documents out of 5 to draw attention to content that you think others would find helpful.
  • Make Announcements and display summaries of your business data in one place to keep your colleagues informed.  This also helps to reduce the To: “All Staff” email in your mailboxes.
  • Lists that display new documents and items, making them more visible for feedback.

In my opinion, the basics to creating a culture of collaboration are:

  • Creating value for collaboration –  Your colleagues have to value “collaboration” in your business.
  • Participation and contribution
  • A set of tools – meetings, a clear, simple and short definition of your business culture rules, an comprehensive and up to date initiation process for new staff, a platform that can bring all this together – SharePoint.

Creating value for collaboration and participation go hand in hand.  You can’t have one without the other.  You need to be actively contributing to a culture of collaboration to add to the value of it.  We like to get feedback.  We get a boost when others tell us that we have done well.  That is one of the success factors of social media.  And it’s then that we see the value of collaboration.

There is one significant thing working against a collaborative business culture.  Time.
We are busy people.  We don’t have time to give feedback.  It’s an age old argument that is perhaps truer today, and that’s a reflection of the pace of our society.

Take-away message

However, take a prompt from the infomercial that beckons “… in just 5 minutes a day, you’ll begin to see results…”
My advice to you is make the time, even if it’s 5 minutes to read the latest draft of a whitepaper and make a comment on the first paragraph you read.  Or add a couple of ratings to some documents.  Or post a couple of sentences in the discussion board on your Intranet.  Post your work on your Intranet for feedback too.  You’ll be surprised what that quiet person in the accounts department can add.

Everyone wants to be part of a cool, fun, collaborative culture.  You just need to make the time to contribute.