It's generally accepted now that we live in a knowledge age. It's also generally accepted that to thrive in such an age requires organisations to tap into the knowledge of each of their workers. It's the underlying principle that has fostered first the knowledge management movement, and subsequently a lot of the social business movement.
It's encouraging organisations to operate on a meritocracy rather than kleptocracy, with the best ideas rising to the top regardless of where they originated from.
It's great in theory, but I suspect most of us have worked in environments where that doesn't exist. We've worked in environments where senior managers cannot (or will not) accept input from those lower down the corporate hierarchy.
The same often works in reverse, with those lower down the hierarchy refusing the opportunity to have their ideas heard by those higher up. A common refrain when asking employees to blog or post online for instance is that they don't want to post something stupid.
It's easy to dismiss this obsession with class and status as a peculiarly British disease, but it pervades much of society. Robert Frank wrote a seminal piece on status back in the 80's and documented the difficulties people have shifting out of their pre-conceived bubbles.
As a manager though, if you can't achieve this, then achieving a collaborative and social business will be impossible.