Discussing the IDC Framework: Ideation, Deliberation, and Collaboration

as we are learning to use social media in organizations, we overestimate some aspects of this new approach and are confused about others: What is new, what is not? What is hype, what is real? Therefore, it is a time for careful definitional work. Yesterday, Andy Blumenthal, the CIO of the FBI did this in an article in Government Technology where he outlined the difference between communication and collaboration:

Information technology has traditionally been about “communication” of information — capturing it, processing it, moving it, storing it, finding it and using it. But now, with Web 2.0, we have evolved from communication to “collaboration.” Well, what’s the difference?

…the real difference between communication and collaboration seems to be related to an organizational and cultural transformation taking place…

We’ve always communicated. But much of the communication was within our own stovepipes — particularly within our own chain of command — to our bosses, staffs or peers primarily within the same organizational function. That was where most of our communication took place — in our organizational verticals.

Now, however, we are transforming from mainly vertical communication to the horizontal collaboration. We are breaking down the stovepipes, which one of my colleagues euphemistically calls “silos of excellence,” and we are instead working across organizational and functional boundaries — hence, we are doing some genuine collaboration!

This is a useful conversation starter and it reminds us of that we are still only learning to “collaborate.” I want to distinguish between three modes of technology-enabled collaboration: Ideation, deliberation, and collaboration, what I refer to at the ESPP as the IDC framework.

All three are useful to governments (and business) when confronted with specific policy issues. Often but not always, you might start out with an ideation phase, move to a deliberation phase, and then to collaboration, the classical example is the Open Government Initiative. Of course, collaboration and deliberation is part of ideation and vice versa, but on the project level, they can be clearly distinguished.


ideation is the process of collectively coming up with ideas and developing them. What is need is a platform that allows participants to post ideas, to comment, and to weed out the bad apples.


we understand deliberation best, because it has its analog in the offline world and there is sufficient text about it (Aristotle, Habermas, Sunstein come to mind). The idea is to create a space in which the better argument and not the structurally advantaged position wins. What is needed is a platform to present ideas, discuss them both syn- and diachronically, and to weigh them in concordance with the underlying governance principle (think Digg-style, Reddit-style, or IMDB-style).


we have most difficulties with collaboration, because it is new. Collaboration allows access to the work-flow by self-selected outsiders. The idea is to make the work flow modular, granular, and redundant, so that very different contributions can be integrated without endangering the quality of the output. A collaboration platform must be governed by a combination of self-enforcing code, simple but strong core principles, and an inclusive culture (think Canonical’s Launchpad or Wikipedia).

What do you think? What would a full-fledged framework look like? Is it mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE)?

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of "Machiavelli.net". Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

23. July 2009 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. Pingback: Shaping Network Society » Blog Archive » Network Society and the Futures of Modernity

  2. aschellong@csc.com'

    Great post. I really like that you started of by saying when to NOT apply transparency. I haven't seen this so far. Can you elaborate on the aspect of secrecy and security? How would you define the boundaries? Depending on the perspective many things can be defined “national security risk if shared with the public”.

  3. None'

    Alexander, I recommend a really good book on exactly that subject, it's called “Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age”

  4. Pingback: Shaping Network Society » Blog Archive » Government 2.0 Barcamp Berlin