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Stovepipes and how they confuse and frustrate

The title of this post suggests a treatise more than a lowly blog post, but, I’m a busy proposal writer, so I’ll have to settle for the post. A friend sent me a link to a Gartner newsletter yesterday, and the title was “It’s official. Collaboration is a top business priority.” That’s good news for me since I’m a collaboration researcher. It’s nice to know collaboration is a priority for someone besides me. I clicked through the newsletter and even visited the website for a conference Gartner is hosting called the Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit. Here are some thoughts, in no particular order.

I use “stovepipes” to refer to the isolated, vertical towers of thought and work into which we’ve organized ourselves. I think I picked it up while serving on SI’s dean search committee where we spent a lot of time talking about how we wanted to avoid stovepipes in SI. We’re an interdisciplinary school, and we wanted to recommend a dean who would encourage intellectual respect and collaboration among the disciplines rather than stovepiping them. Ok, so, now I’m concerned about the stovepiping that happens between academia and the business world. This is not a new concern for me, but it’s one I haven’t written down for public consumption yet. It worries me that a summit like Gartner’s can take place and that academia neither talks about it nor attends. I don’t mean to imply that Gartner’s summit is the be-all, end-all and that it’s going to change the world forever, but it could be something interesting.  It concerns me that when I wanted to study newcomers in an organization, I was thwarted by lack of connections to organizations. Instead, I ended up studying newcomers to an academic environment and then interviewing (a year later) for a serendipitous opportunity to study newcomers in a public company. Man, I hope I get that internship. I digress.

The divide between academic research and business research seems to be growing. Is it growing? Am I just more attuned to it now than I have been? What can I do to get more connected to businesses so that I can learn from them, and so that my work can have some real world impact? I don’t want to be a messiah with academic knowledge; I want to get my hands dirty outside the lab. What would the cost to my academic reputation be if I were to focus on collaborations with industry researchers and managers? Where is the tunnel between the stovepipes?

Stovepipes aside, Gartner’s summit has one of the most male-dominated presenter lists I’ve seen in a quite a while. I hope overall that their company is more diverse. That said, I’m curious about the summit. I do wonder what collaboration technologies are on the horizon. I’ll be paying attention, for sure.

So, what do you think ?

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