I had an interesting discussion with my friend Peter the other day about when social computing may be less effecting or perhaps inappropriate completely. One of the items touched on was the concept around self-organization.
In situations, where you are looking for the passionate, motivated and driven people in a mass crowd, self-selection can help navigate the social network through transparency and openness. For example, if a company wanted to identify new product features for a niche product, it may simply open up a forum of some sort to all, and allow those with interest self-organize and provide input.
But what about when you need to bring people together who don't want to come together. Perhaps it's a sales team VS a marketing team where you need to make a critical decision for the company? Holding a forum and providing opportunity for participation may yield no benefit as both groups may see it as a "waste of time". What if the "experts" in the room are so set into their thinking they have dismissed the new "concepts" flat out? Or if the new "concepts" do not heed the wisdom of the experts?
Ever hear of the concept of "locking people in a room until they solve the problem"? What happens when the people don't want to be in the same room? Sometimes, the face-to-face session is necessary to "force" collaboration. Through tailored collaboration events and skilled facilitation professionals, you can chip away at the limitations of self-organization. Perhaps an E2.0 approach could be a sequential next step once you've overcome the motivational factors that oppose collaboration.
There are other areas where social computing (as an initial start) may be less effective that I've discussed before but would love to hear your thoughts.