... they behave differently.
This observation, really given as an aside, was probably the most intriguing one that was offered during the presentations at the Social Media Strategies for HR seminar at The Conference Board in New York that I attended and co-presented with Trish McFarlane this week.
The take, that installing, deploying, and making central more 'social' and open or collaborative systems to support people's day-to-day work processes and workflows certainly might make the organization more collegial and efficient, but it also might come with some risk and downside as well.
I think there is certainly something to say for the notion that for many people participation in social networks and systems is part honest, and genuine information sharing and engagement, but it also is at least (partly) a kind of performance as well. Think if you can for a minute about your Facebook feed - I will bet it is filled with perfect photos of your friends' precocious and impossibly cute children, tales of friends jetting off on some exotic location, or even long-lost relatives that you know are (largely) losers painting a way-too-flattering portrait of their lives.
When people know they're being watched, they behave differently.
They might embellish, they might obfuscate, or, certainly, they might simply act better and more diligently and responsibly. But either way, whether it is the popular social networks that have invaded our lives, or it is an internal or enterprise social workplace type system that at its core is designed to give lots more people a window into what the average worker bee is up to all day, I think perhaps we haven't thought enough about how being watched impacts people's actions and behaviors.
Anyway, I'm off the soapbox.
Let me know what you think - is more openness, transparency, and visibility into our everyday and mundane actions at work going to change how we act and how we try to present our work selves? Do we run the risk of becoming the same kind of annoying broadcasters we have become on Facebook?
As always, The Conference Board put on a great event, and I want to thank them for inviting me to attend and participate this week.