Peter Schooff asked another excellent question today: “Does Strategy always Trump Technology” when it comes to deploying and using a content management system / Enterprise 2.0 system? This is a very good point, but it should be “culture,” not strategy, that does the trumping.
The reason that I would call it culture, instead of strategy, is that a culture is a set of shared values and behaviors. A culture might define the strategy that one employs in a particular situation, but the term strategy strongly connotes implicit knowledge and decision, but this needs to move to tacit knowledge and action. One person might sit down and think up a strategy, but it takes many people a long time to develop a culture.
When I think about the culture change that has to happen, I often compare this with “anti-littering” campaigns. If I think only about the short term cost/benefit to me personally, one can’t justify the additional effort of using the trash bin. But we know that in the aggregate that a piece of litter has a small negative effect on everyone else. Somehow a culture has to learn to convince everyone to take the small effort to throw things in the bin, so that everyone else benefits. The technology is simply the trash bin, but the presence of the trash bins without the culture to use them would be ineffective.
No project will ever have the “goal” to not litter. No person will make “not littering” a professional goal. Instead, this behavior needs to be part of the shared goals that we all buy into simply to be part of something: it has to be part of the culture.
Currently the easiest thing to do to in most offices to communicate with others is to send an email.
It will take a change of culture to get people to the point where they find using content management natural. Using ECM is never a “goal” of any project, nor will it benefit a single project in isolation. Instead, using a content repository correctly will benefit everyone else in the organization over time.
Storing my document in a shared repository has little benefit for me (after all, I already have the document) and mainly benefits everyone except me. The most important thing is a culture change to get people to use it. Once you have the culture to share, you find that there are many way to share the documents, and the particular technology you use is close to irrelevant.
So yes, culture trumps technology every time.