The Genre Model can help in evaluating how a new communication technology may fit into your specific corporate environment.
New technologies such as blogs, wikis, Second Life and Skype are popping up, sometimes unexpectedly, in many organizations. Assessing which technologies to implement is difficult enough. Figuring out how to assess a novel technology that is already being used by members of your organization is even more challenging. With so many new and different technologies emerging all the time, trying to choose the “right” one for every company and situation is the wrong approach. Managers instead need to evaluate how it will work in their specific organization.
In that spirit, the authors introduce the six-dimensional Genre Model — based on why, what, who, where, when and how — for considering the central issues, risks and benefits of using a new medium in the context of existing technologies. The model helps assess how employees’ use and adoption of the new technology will align with the organization’s mission, culture and business practices and how it may change productivity and effectiveness.
Several case studies are analyzed. Blog Central at IBM, introduced by management as a self-publishing platform for employees, soon became more social than informational as users applied blogging to extend their personal networks, “get the pulse” of their organization and establish a sense of community. After MNI Partners, a management consulting company, adopted the Skype system to cut costs on its weekly international conference calls, the nature of those meetings evolved as participants exploited the new medium’s properties. And when managers from a large European petroleum company, which the authors call Epsilon, established an internal electronic bulletin board for the exchange of technical information, they learned that many longtime employees, aggrieved by recent corporate changes, had other uses in mind for that medium.
The Genre Model is used to analyze these cases, as well as to help explain, retrospectively, why the business letter gave way to the memo, which then was largely subsumed by e-mail.