A recent Harvard Business School research paper describes a study of over 100,000 employees in an unnamed corporation, that analyzed over 100 million e-mails and 60 million electronic calendar entries over a three-month period.
The results showed the lack of communication across the organizational hierarchy and geography. In short, most people tended to communicate with others in their own group or with peers. However, women were statistically far more likely to transcend pre-existing organisational barriers.
This may not appear that startling a finding but i think it's important. Intuitively women tend to be the community builders and men display greater competitive drive. However in this study we see cold hard data to satisfy even the most analytically inclined (hopefully). With so much emphasis on collaboration and breaking down pre-existing silos, it needs stating that there is a clear gender divide at play here.
This has also been brought home to me recently as we've been writing a manifesto that we intend to unleash shortly called 'the campaign for extreme collaboration'. However several female colleague object to the use of the word 'extreme' as it seems unnecessarily agressive and provocative (which is part of the reason why I like it if I'm honest). However I wonder if it also makes the more feminine concept of collaboration more appealing to men. Interestingly we had a considerable positive response to the manifesto by a predominantly male community when I shared a draft of the manifesto at the recent ibm innovation jam.
We are in the midst of the first networked global recession and I believe we need to rethink or organisational and political structures to reflect this increasingly interconnected world to be more collaborative and (slightly) less competitive. Dissappointingly women in top jobs are in decline and yet they are needed more than ever.