Collaboration involves sharing. Sharing involves vulnerability. Making oneself vulnerable is hard to do unless there is an atmosphere of trust, a secure environment, where the participants are known and where access is transparent and consistent.
Hmmm, but you have to have participation in order to build trust and engagement…for trust comes with building rapport; so creating conditions for relationships is key.
As Dave Snowden says:
“…trust is an emergent property of the process of engagement not a precondition…trust is the symptom of interaction over time”
“…rather than talk about the idealised or desired qualities of the conversation, you need to create environments and interactions where it is more likely to emerge”
Shared experiences and rapport
We need to do all that we can for people to share personal experiences so they identify and care for each other. The smokers break is an organic one, I’m sure your work has organised fun social breaks such as; birthdays, pizza days, Australia’s biggest morning teas, The Worlds Greatest Shave, etc…my post The science of social relationships for organisational wellness and performance (smaller version) talks about how important this is to mammals, such as us.
But of course all you community managers know about real-time and face-to-face events to bond and build relationships :O
Social Psychology, Anthropology, and Cognitive Science
Enterprise social software appeals to the "what’s in it for me” factor ie social psychology…we now have an audience, and thrive on checking in the morning if we have comments and ratings…we answer people’s questions (part of this is it makes us look good, or simply makes us feel useful)…also the feeling of belonging, ownership, passion, having impact (making a difference). This is DIY expertise and career development.. influence by reputation, rather than authority.
So to me if we must look at anthropology and social psychology, in order to be able to study people and offer an enabling and engaging environment (this also includes UX design). And we must look at cognitive science to see what makes people tick, our biases, habits, routines, and all that supposed-irrational stuff.
Organisational design - job evaluation and shareholder capialism
And lastly we need to look at organisational design constraints; like the work design job evaluation of What gets measured determines what gets done; and the classic of competing for resources and making our department shine, etc…people will simply keep having these symptoms if the root cause is not changed…which is the denatured role of management…yep shareholder capitalism has something to blame for failing of people sharing and collaborating in your organisation.