Enterprise 2.0: Radical Change by Revolution or Mandate?

February 16, 2008 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Ross Dawson's Enterprise 2.0 will bring radical change in organisations quotes Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum research director from an article by Merri Mack writing in Voice and Data magazine:

Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum research director, sees Enterprise 2.0 as a genuine opportunity for technology to act as a catalyst for changes in organisational culture.

"Enterprise 2.0 is emerging as the most practical way of sharing and managing knowledge in a range of contexts, from team collaboration to customer self-service forums. This leads to the ability to bring about cultural change with the personal power of informal networks such as wikis, blogs, profiles and forums."

"The root of its culture change power, however, is its ability to unleash the personal power of informal networks," said Hodgkinson.

Key ideas within this new system include:

* The need for a flat organisation, rather than an organisational hierarchy
* Folksonomy rather than taxonomy
* User-driven technology rather than IT department control
* Short time-to-market cycles; to continue and increase flow
* Global teams of people, rather than locating the whole organisation in one building
* Emergent information systems, rather than dictated and structured information systems
* The opening of propriety standards

All excellent points, but don't assume that this will necessarily happen as a bottom up revolution - with employees storming the barricades - and don't assume that all top level executives are blind to the advantages of spending money - or mandating organizational change - to gain a valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable advantage over their competitors. Radical change can come by mandate as well as by revolution - you may want to re-read your Machiavelli:

... it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves or have to depend on others: that is to say, whether, to consummate their enterprise, have they to use prayers or can they use force? In the first instance they always succeed badly, and never compass anything; but when they can rely on themselves and use force, then they are rarely endangered. Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed. - The Prince, Nicolo Machiavelli, Chapter VI.

I don't want to sound melodramatic, but just make a simple point that innovative leadership from the top of an organization can make a big difference in the prospects for successful change.

Both Andrew McAfee and Ray Lane's analysis support the proposition that C level executives can and should support change to gain these benefits - sometimes reorganizing around or eliminating middle managers who stand in the way.

McAfee notes that the advantages of making much more effective use of the expertise within your company satisfies the VRIN (valuable, rare, inimitable, and non-substitutable) criteria that businesses can use to create and sustain a unique competitive advantage.

Read McAfee's Feb 2007 post FastForwarding to a Better Understanding, Part 2, and see him make this point in his FastForward 07 keynote: Enterprise 2.0: The Next Disruptor (scroll through the list of Videos in the right side of the page to find this title)

Read Ray Lane's June 2006 Business Week interview A VC's View of Web 2.0 and see him make similar points Lane in his FASTForward 07 Keynote: The Inter Personal Enterprise (scroll through the list of Videos in the right side of the page to find this title)

Note also that Traction's first Pharma success was driven by an innovative CIO acting directly on his CEO's mandate to rethink and reshape Competitive Intelligence information for the company, see 13 June 2005 | Dark Blogs Case Study #1 - A European Pharmaceutical Group.

Speaking of FASTForward ...

If you're headed to FASTForward '08 in Orlando next week, I'll be speaking on Competitive Intelligence Analysts as examples of hard core knowledge workers in the Tuesday 19 Feb 1:45PM Session: Implementing Content-Based Collaborative Applications, see my abstract and slides in 19 Feb 2008 | Greg Lloyd on "Enterprise 2.0 for Intelligence Analysts", FASTForward 08.

The FASTForward '08 agenda looks great, and the conference will be almost twice as big as last year's FASTForward. See you there!

My notes and slides from last year's FASTForward: Information Foraging at FASTForward '07

Page Top