A friend of mine is a music producer and the other day we were talking about a recent release of his. Released through a small label, the EP attracted a wide amount of attention thanks to said friends profile, and the profile of the artists featured. Following a healthy number of sales initially, my friend then described how the EP popped up on a well known file sharing site about six days later, and how he was relieved it had taken that long.
“Why not contact the site in question and ask for its removal?” I asked. “No point, as it will be on ten more sites the next day and hundred the day after; you simply cannot win”.
This got me thinking about what we do at NM, and the recent surge in interest around social business, particularly social business platforms like Jive and IBM Connections. I’ve read many case studies and seen many evangelists talk of seamless collaboration and employees being able to work together like never before, regardless of geographic or departmental barriers.
But we’ve never really thought about internal piracy, or plagiarism as it would probably be better understood.
Imagine this. You’re a mid-level employee in a large FMCG business. You’ve devised and documented a smart new process which, if implemented, could save your business area large amounts of time and therefore cash. Immediate colleagues are impressed and have even helped you finalise the process through the companies recently implemented social business platform. You’re awaiting the big launch, having submitted the business case to put your new process into action, but a couple of days before launch you’re invited to witness the launch of a worryingly similar sounding process improvement, ’devised’ by a more senior colleague in the same department.
Obviously this kind of skullduggery exists in corporate environments already; colleagues copying other colleagues and taking credit for the work of others. But are we at risk of creating unforeseen ethical, personal and cultural issues by introducing platforms where sharing and transparency are selling points?
In short, yes – shitty people will always be shitty and there will be those that get short-changed because they’ve shared a bit too openly with the wrong people. On the flip-side of this though, the huge benefits of a sharing culture vastly outweigh the pitfalls. Therefore, I thought I’d have a bash at some simple best practice procedures for tackling internal piracy:
- Lead by example; using the work of others, tweaking and adding, will make for smarter organisations and faster innovation. If you’re in a senior role, or perhaps just highly visible, proudly use the work of others and credit the originators whenever possible. Culture changes through behaviour so transform yours one action at a time.
- Properly embed and monitor use of new sharing platforms; too many large software implementations are left to wallow once launched – probably the result of stressful and tedious implementation processes. However it’s essential to keep an overview on usage, if only to ensure you’re getting value for money from your investment. Also, you’ll see who’s using the system, and who isn’t. If you can work with passionate champions AND detractors you’ll gain a full understanding of what’s useful about the platform and what’s not, and what you can do to encourage broader usage.
- Showcase sharing; when amazing things happens based on sharing and collaboration, celebrate it. Using whatever internal channels you have, let people know about new innovations, and the collaborations behind them. If you can get leadership to do this even better.
I’d be really interested to hear if others think internal piracy will be an issue, and if so, if my suggestions above will help. I’ve deliberately made them positive, rather than cease and desist type measures, as I think organisations have enough of those already.
Image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Flickr user hojoanaheim