The enterprise as it should have always been

By Bertrand Duperrin posted 04-08-2010 16:28


It's been a long time on the scale of Internet time since Andrew McAfee coined “Enterprise 2.0.” As with any new thing, organizations needed to know what it was about in order to understand its potential to possibily implement it. So, many people proposed their definition (and sometimes several definitions) to explain what enterprise 2.0 was. All these definitions (including mine) usually had two things in common: they seemed both relevant and incomplete at the same time.  Relevant because they were about something that was in the enterprise 2.0 field. Incomplete because enterprise 2.0 takes so many different forms that any definition had to be restrictive to be operational or theoretical to be comprehensive.

So, depending on the expert or practitioner that was appealed to, enterprise 2.0 could be either about innovation, marketing, sales, HR, technology, management, philosophy.... And, in fact, looking at many successful deployment cases shows that it's never quite the same thing and never happens in a uniform way.

What is not of much help for organizations who demonstrate some interest in the Enterprise 2.0 thing: the lack of unique definition and methodology does make them uncomfortable when it comes to actually doing things.

When I'm asked such questions, I usually answer something like "don't try to find how such or such enterprise 2.0 theory can apply to your situation but focus on what you want to achieve and the best way to do it with what's at your disposal today."

The fact is many organizations still rely on and are run by systems and practices that were built with what was at the organization's disposal....50 years ago.

What were the concerns in those times? Better products, innovation, delivering better and quicker, make the most of any resource... I'm not sure things have changed that much since then. Then as now (though to a lesser extent), people were the key to success, but time and location constraints prevented organizations from building a kind of marketplace where information, knowledge, expertise, problems, and solution could meet. That's why organizations built pipes and organizational structures to favor what could not happen in a natural way.

Today, this kind of marketplace where resources that are needed to operate better and faster (aka people and knowledge) can meet without any kind of "push" organization can naturally exist and, ironically, what was implemented to convey, store, and deliver information is now a crippling inhibitor.

So, maybe a first hint would be to consider enterprise 2.0 organizations as “enterprises that remove” instead of adding when it comes to facing new challenges. Of course that's a little bit too simplistic but we'll see in some upcoming posts that this is not trivial at all.

Whatever you're trying to achieve there is a new range of tools and practices that can provide better results, in place of traditional ones or jointly with them. Not because they are 1.0 or 2.0 but because they fit both your needs and context. It's all about improving delivery in a knowledge-intensive context, nothing more.

When GE launched SupportCentral long before the dawn of "anything 2.0," when Danone launched "Networking Attitude," a management program that's all about behaviors many years before the question of introducing social media in the workplace, they were not trying to apply anything 2.0. They were only trying to solve their problems and increase their performance, the name came after, as an analogy. And so did all those who followed the same direction after the word was coined.

If we recap all this, it's clear that enterprise 2.0 should not be seen as a potential risk because it’s the current situation that inhibits information exchange that’s an abnormality. Enterprise 2.0 is about building the enterprise according to its very nature and purpose: the enterprise as it should have always been.

#socialmedia #culture #Management #E2.0definition #productivity