Enterprise 2.0 – an evolution or revolution of the organisation

While cleaning up my inbox I stumbled upon some old mail conversations of our advisory board regarding a dogmatic discussion about whether Enterprise 2.0 is an "evolution" or "revolution". From my last post on the classification of use case it becomes clear that I am very much on the "evolutionary" side of the discussion when it comes to how to fit the social applications into the enterprise application stack. But on the organisational dimension of the discussion I very much agree on the arguments that successful E2.0 initiatives need a reframing of the organisational structure of the enterprise. But instead of bothering you with my opinion I would like to point out some of the great statements from the discussions of our advisory board.

The discussion all started with a statement of Mark Masterson regarding the missed aspect of integrating social applications with the enterprise business solutions:

As I’ve said elsewhere , I think that we spend much too much time talking about implementing social networking software silos ("build a wiki, and they will come"), and much too little about baking SNS into existing domain and task specific systems. Bjoern, you suggest something quite similar in your recent post , where you speak about this under the "Being Complementary and Integrative" bullet point.
I have elsewhere made the argument that one way to approach the problem would be to marry up SNS functionality with BPM software (read it here ). But not everyone is convinced that this is a good idea — there are some who responded to that (and other, similar ideas elsewhere) that BPM would be
poison for SNS — that the structured processes a BPMS implies are anathema to collaboration, never the twain shall meet.

In response to this Lee Bryant brought up the point that just enhancing the excisting processes with a layer of interaction to support crossfunctional sharing of knowledge and collaboration is not enough because a complete reframing of the idea of the organisational structure is needed in order to be successful in Enterprise 2.0 initiatives.

Existing businesses have structure and they have process, but as Mark says, the problem lies in trying to automate or de-humanise process, rather than with the idea of process itself. In terms of structure, a  question on my mind is how we can re-design businesses and organisations around the ideas of flow, aggregation, networks and collaboration, rather than just think about how we can work within the existing structures that we find in large businesses today. For example, looking at the segmentation you have applied to the audience  and tracks, I find it interesting to note that Intranet and ECM departments should simply not exist. Arguably, neither should central knowledge functions, which are better located within lines of  business. So the question is, what are the organisational design implications of E2.0 tools, techniques and ideas?

Last but not least I want to include the propositions of Bertrand Duperrin on this – whom I would put on the "evolutionary" side of this discussion as he proposed foremost a "rethinking" of some key corporate values in order to really foster the network effects of social applications in or above the "flow":

  1. think in terms of system (dynamic flows) rather than organization (set org-chart)
  2. Think "global improvement" (macro vision) rather than "functional optimization" (micro vision)
  3. Think "increase performance" rather than "cost reduction"
  4. Think "pull" (listen to the client’s voice..and client may be internal) rather than "push" (offer and product approach)
  5. Think "individual" (what he is, what he knows, what he likes) and not "function" (what he has, what he must do, his status)
  6. Think "ongoing experimentation" (permanent beta with quick retro-action loops) rather than according to the "test/validation/production/generalization".
  7. Think "immediate generalization" (in order to make it possible for unexpected things to emerge) rather than "progressive generalization" (because it contradicts the economic benefits driven by the network effects)
  8. Replace "think" by  "act" in the previous points ;-)
  9. Don’t use hierarchy as a substitute for trust.

So – what do you think on this? What are your experiences? At the E2.0 SUMMIT will be addressing this discussion with different sessions – to really get a in depth understanding of it and eventually to provide some strategic implications. In order to enhance this discussion upfront I would be very interested about your opinions and views on this.

About the author

Bjoern Negelmann

As the head of content and conferences at Kongress Media Bjoern Negelmann takes care for the meaningful discussion at the Kongress Media events. He is a web & social enthusiast and believer in the power of the crowd and social and collaborative transformation.