Enterprise 2.0 explained to our managers in 10 principles

(French version also is available).

One of the most common misconceptions our managers make when they talk about Enterprise 2.0 is to reduce this approach to a mere web2zero (quote mark with the fingers) collaborative toolset. We can smile about it, but if we get this kind of misunderstanding, it’s probably because we missed something while communicating around this.

In the slideshared Enterprise 2.0 presentation, I realized that I only devoted one slide to the underlying changes.

It’s critical for people to understand that while importing these social platforms from the Internet, we also import an underlying electronic culture that will profoundly change the workplace organization. And these changes involve management principles. 10 of which being described hereafter …

1 – Conversation (Vs Broadcast)

Just as traditional media conditioned the audience to be passive consumers — first of commercial messages, then of products — the traditional organization conditioned employees to be obedient executors of bureaucratically disseminated work orders. Both are forms of broadcast: the few dictating the behavior of the many. The broadcast mentality isn’t dead by any means. It’s just become suicidal. (Christopher Locke – Cluetrain Manifesto)

This medium based on open conversations has irrevocably changed not only our electronic culture but also the way we apprehend social relationships. It will become increasingly difficult for our management to have us accept a one-way communication (top down) while we are used to bi-directional ones in our everyday online life. Reducing our contribution to enterprise communication field to 5mns Q&A at the end of General Meetings will quickly become unsustainable.

2 – Bottom up (Vs Top Down)

It’s about the same as far as technologies choice is concerned when it comes to develop new product/services. As Tim Bray put it : Decisions on key technologies are now being taken by developers and not by leaders at the turn of a golf course.

This a similar trend to that of Toyota workers on assembly lines. In this company, recognized worldwide for its amazing processes, the employee contribution to innovation is permanent :

The average Toyota employee Contributes more than 100 improvement ideas each year. That quickly adds up to millions of ideas. Certainly most of them are incremental ideas, in fact, most of them probably are not even new ideas. But while the actual ideas are important, even more important is the culture In which this spirit is nurtured.

It is not only a matter of innovation, but also recognition, rewarding and job commitment. This is pure Management.

3 – Reputation (Vs Hierarchy)

Another fundamental aspect in the participatory culture imported from the internet is the concept of Reputation. In Enterprise 1.0, the job title embodies the status of the employee within the company. This concept is substituted in the internet culture with Reputation, i.e. the quantified assessment of the contribution of the individual by his peers.

This significantly broadens the scope of reference for people skills evaluation, from the sole enterprise to the whole Internet. The consequence is that the reputation built by an employee on the intranet and internet will have to be taken into account in one way or another within the company.

Conversely, hierarchy granted power will not necessarily be recognized among employees if it is not validated by a significant reputation in the intranet / internet. This is the Granted Power Vs Earned Power issue discussed by Scott Berkun in the Trust chapter of The Art Of Project Management.

3 – Emergence (Vs Structure)

There is this unquestionable statement : the Web works. The Web was built without a predetermined structure. Unexpected solutions have emerged naturally and were massively adopted : this also is called Serendipity.

As an example, hyper-text has naturally fostered the relevance of Google and has helped to classify the web. No one has written in the Web_User_Guide.doc that whenever we publish resources to the web we have to make links to other pages. This has just happened and it has shaped the internet as we know it.

4 – Folksonomy (Vs Taxonomy)

Similarly, Folksonomy has naturally taken precedence over Taxonomy when it came to classify the ocean of information available on the web. Namely, according to Wikipedia, a system of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content performed by non-specialists, rather than a rigorous and structured classification.

The advantage of folksonomy is that information is classified according to its contents, with labels (tags) that anyone can choose. While with the Taxonomy, the information is classified according to its location. Folksonomy has two advantages: a) we find pieces of information more easily and b) within collaborative platforms, these tags help in finding quickly people we share thematic affinities with.

If you give it a thought, it makes sense : when we put our information in order, we do it to find the information quickly afterwards. Not to build an harmonious and logical tree of information.

5 – Agility (Vs Bureaucracy)

Agile project management (focusing on transparency, simplicity, collaboration, visual management, simplicity and trust) helps greatly in absorbing the inevitable changes that occur during the life of a project development.

Similarly, the Enterprise 2.0 needs an agile organization that enables to absorb the emergence of new tools, practices and relationships. Among other things, this open organization allows emergence and promotes innovation.

Agility also meets the high demands of connected culture, namely the radical pragmatism (to quote Alexander Bard) and the obsession in Getting Things Done. Productivity rather than processes, speed of execution rather than bureaucratic slowness, frequent releases, etc. …

6- Transparency (Vs Security)

Before anything, let’s make sure we share the same understanding of what type of company information we apply transparency to. It obviously does not apply to sensitive and confidential pieces of information. But to any other.

Talking with managers helps to reveals the main fear it inspires. According to managers, it may let emerge the fallibility of their teams and/or themselves.

The thing is : when honestly undertaken in a context of trust and addressed quickly, these errors and potential problems help to give a human face and to create genuine links between the teams. As Herman Melville puts it :

“Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses — for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it…”

On the other hand, the temptation of security, of building silos of knowledge accessed through complex algorithms which rule rights access can contribute to add friction, to slow down the diffusion of knowledge and to nurture a sense of paranoia. Which is not a good for teams morale.

7 – Intertwined Networks (Vs Silos)

Transparency is about information sharing, on both vertical and transverse organization axis. This multi directional communication helps fostering efficiency as it ensures that employees know what the priorities and business strategy are. In addition, it also nurtures innovation through the use of Weak Ties of Mark Granovetter (see Enterprise 2.0 Presentation).

Besides, broadening the scope of knowledge of collaborators to the activities of the company as a whole allow them to give a meaning to their professional contribution. This is a fuel to collaborator commitment.

8 – Simplicity (Vs complexity)

Agile is focused on driving towards simplicity rather than creating systems that manage complexity (Mike Cottmeyer et V. Lee Henson The Agile business Analyst)

Simplicity is a core agile principle and agile organization is a critical component of Enterprise 2.0. Therefore, it is necessary to resist the mysterious charms and the intellectually stimulating complexity of potential solutions / organization / processes. The aim is to strive for simplicity in the implementation of social networks in the enterprise.

9 – User-oriented technologies (Vs IT Governance)

One of the main feature identified by Andrew McAfee in his presentation on Enterprise 2.0 is the concept of simple tools and easy access. The usability has became the key quality criteria against which we rate online applications. The main difference between internet applications (Facebook etc …) and intranet’s : the budget share spent on design and usability: about 10 times more for the internet applications.

Again, it will become increasingly difficult to impose anti-ergonomic and unusable intranet tools to people that use Twitter or Facebook day-in day-out. The main reason is that applications developed without usability concerns are neither pleasant to use nor productive.

10 – Trust (Vs Control)

This is the basic principle as it determines all others.

Without Trust there cannot be transparency in information. There cannot be an organisation flexible enough to let emergence happens. There cannot be an open bottom-up communication.

Without Trust, Management will only prevail in the implementation of complex processes to define the inflexible scope of responsibilities of knowledge workers. Without Trust it is not possible to establish an organization which leverages the agility, speed (refer to Stephen Covey Jr. book) and productivity offered by the net.

Without Trust, the management will not abandon the command and control strategy. And the required space for effective implementation of collaborative tools shall never appear.

Modern Management promises

What is quite amazing with these principles is that, by and large, they are pretty similar to the ones we can find in the writings of major XXth century authors on management and leadership. Would Enterprise 2.0 fulfill modern management promises ? Some thoughts on the topic one click away.

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27 comments

  1. Hi Pete,

    Thanks for your comments and well done. You’re the first one to spot this double #3.

    Probably a proof that E2.0 is delivering more than what you would expect …

    Best, Cecil.

  2. I love this list… It can be adjusted to fit a lot of the principles that are needed when promoting change within an organization, not just technology changes.

    Thanks for the 11 principles.

  3. Love it. Even though I had to laugh at the “10 principals” but I get it.

    I have been making the argument that “all this social” will result in a higher level of integrity for/from all of us. I completely embrace all 11 but beat my drum repeatedly for 3, 5, and 8 – that the stuff great teams are made of.

  4. Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for your fedback.Hey which number 3 are you talking about ? Is it the emergence #3 or Reputation #3 😉

    I guess that what we are observing with Enterprise 2.0 is the enterprise culture mixing more and more with the internet culture. Companies are fascinated with the scale, quality and light speed of internet open source projects.

    They started getting in the culture basing their IT solution on open source software. Then they adopt Agile methodologies or project management. Now they embrace Enterprise 2.0 to add the collaborative, convivial and yet extremely efficient social software into the mix.

    I mad a post on this topic : it’s called 3rd level of immersion but it’s only available in french right now.

    I’ll translate it soon.

  5. Cecill, Thrilling post. Your principles apply to both software making and Curry making – two passions I have right now. Thanks for reminding me and laying them out so fluidly.

  6. Hi Arun,

    Waow you’re seeing some applications that I couldn’t imagine while writing this post.

    Many thanks for your kind words. And enjoy the curry.

    Cecil.

  7. re: Folksonomy (Vs Taxonomy)

    One of the speakers at the e2.0 conf in SF said, “Manage knowledge mostly by connecting people. Brains are just so much better than databases.”

    • Hi Saqib, thanks for your comment.

      I guess that there is this truth no-one can deny : the web works. And it has built itself naturally and gradually.

      Brain are definitely better than databases but most importantly collaborative actions will always be more adaptive and efficient in the long run than upfront structure defined by a couple of experts.

  8. Cecil,

    Great post! It is such an exciting time of transformation that is much welcomed!

    I do have a puzzler for us folks trying to handle the tension between this great new world and the organisation’s ability to ensure it can ‘harvest’ the information generated by these activities for boring old compliance/reporting/legacy needs.

    You touch on this a little in #6 but it is more than just security. It certainly is a big one to overcome with the money-men in an organisation!

  9. Hi Jo,

    Thanks very much for your comment.

    I guess that what we need to focus on are :
    a) the problems organisations are facing today to improve knowledge workers productivity
    b) how we can implement e20 alongside existing IT systems and process to make processes more efficient.

  10. Great list Cecil. I’m doing my masters thesis on the Impact of Social Media on Leadership. I’m hoping it’s okay with you that I use your list as part of my background for the interviews I’m going to do? Please contact me by e-mail and I will send you my results. Again; thanks for the great list.

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