Expectations for 2014: Stronger Business Alignment + More Profound E2.0 Project Management + Better Understanding of 21st Century Organization

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“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

As the new year is still fresh we are happily looking forward to this new year’s evolution in the “social business/enterprise” sphere. And to go with the quote of T.S. Eliot we will also still not argue whether “social business is dead” or still alive – but instead try to proceed with a more distinguished discussion on how to drive the business by the support and enablement of social initiatives.

Therefore I have put together some expectations about to where the discussion must/will evolve in 2014:

Support for a stronger alignment of social initiatives with the business

While the call for a stronger alignment of social initiatives with the “business” is as old as the idea of the Enterprise-wide social networking approach, the advancements in this matter are not yet remarkable. Most of the projects/initiatives are running “above the process” and providing unintentionally accountable value to the organisation. This is also often the reason why experts are declaring the “social business” thing as dead – as it is still running as a “siloed” approach with the idea of revolutionizing the internal communication and knowledge sharing routines and thus consequently producing value for the organization. As this approach is certainly achieving its results – the results are still very low-level and in many ways with unintentional higher impact to the value creation process of the company.

As described in an early post we can identify some new kinds of projects that are more driven by business objectives. But while these projects are already driven by a more holistic idea of social as an enablement for some business development objectives, the integration of social in the process is also for this kind of projects only low-level.

A more process-orientated discussion in this matter is held by the BPM and Case Management community in regards to the social enhancements of the “adaptive case management” concept. Reflections on this topic are mainly driven from the “IT Service Management” people. Authors like Hamid R Motahari-Nezhad (IBM Research) or Keith D Swenson (Fujitsu) are at the heart of this discussion. They are discussing the enablement of social and collaborative enhancement towards the definition, adaptation and enactment of case processes. They also explore the possibilities of the integration of social networking to offer mechanisms for capturing and formalizing feedback into the case, process and artifact definitions.

The different levels of the unification of social and business processes is nicely visualized by  in a blog post back in May 2011: The continuum of Social BPM

While the “closed BPM” and the “siloed ESN” were the ideas of yesterday, this year’s discussion must push forward the stage of the “participatory” and “social enactment”. We will therefore start an interview series on this to further explore the challenges and the potentials in this area. At the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT we have invited João Pinto dos Santos from Accenture to give us an BPM/ACM-related view on social. Paired with a more ESN related perspective to this topic from Bertrand Duperrin from Nextmodernity this session certainly will provide some insights.

A more differentiated discussion about the roles and tasks for the E2.0 project management

A second topic that I like to see evolve is the discussion about the differentiated tasks and roles for the project management of “E20/Social Initiatives”. As the projects need to be driven from inside of the organization we need to define accepted job descriptions for people working on these projects.

There are various understandings and definitons about the E2.0 project manager, the adoption manager, the internal community manager and so on. From the discussions at our conferences and with a German working group on internal community management I have develop the idea of five different roles in the E20 project:

E20 project organization with different tasks and roles

  1. Project Lead for the E2.0/Social Initiative: This person is in charge for the overall progress and success of the project. He/she should overlook the different activities for the adoption and cultural change. This role likely reports to the management board – mainly on achieved business goals with the enablement of the social initiative.
  2. Community Management Competence Lead: This person is in charge for the long-term engagement and community life. He/she is driving the adoption process, helping people to build up social skills and engage in a collaborative working culture as well as to use the social platform as an enabling tool in order to achieve the defined business objective. He/she is keeping track of the community activity in terms of quantitative measures and is taking actions to re-assure the relevance of the community structure.
  3. Guides & Advocats: These persons are having a supporting role in justifying and promoting the collaborative working culture in the organization. They are either subject-matter experts (SMEs) to provide relevant information on the platform or process experts to identify and promote a business process or project being organized in a collaborative working mode.
  4. Connectors: These persons help to connect relevant people on the platform to assure the diversity of the network structure.
  5. Community Management Enabled Project/Process Manager: This role may vary as an additional task to a project or process manager or a specific job role for larger communities. This task consists mainly of the daily operational “keeping alive” activities in a specific community. In many ways these are just normal project management skills – added with a specific sense of “digital empathy” to understand the contextual background of social interactions in digital environments.

So while the last role might seem to look like the most important one, for me it is not. For me the most critical role to the success of the project is the “Community Management Competence Lead” – the spin-doctor for the community activities. Only a few E2.0 initiatives have installed these positions as a full-time amd fully legitimated job position what might be a reason for a lot of stagnation in the progress of the social initiatives.

From an #e20s expert talk with Rachel Happe I have extracted the following key tasks for this role:

Key tasks for the internal community management lead

I am looking very much forward to the discussions of the session with Rachel Happe and Claire Flanagan at the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT that is addressing this aspect as a key question.

Advancements in the understanding of the design of the 21st century organisation

A third subject that needs to be penetrated in order to advance the “social business/enterprise” outcome is the idea of the design of the 21st century organisation. Many talks have pointed out that the age of the hierarchical “Command & Control” system is overdue. But only a few ideas and recommendations are defined to outline the organizational design of the future. In general everybody agrees on a network orientated model with leadership and authority defined by knowledge and competences and supporting the open flow of information and therefore ideas and innovations. Jon Husband is calling it the “wirearchy” model – an emergent organizing principle in which advancing ideas and innovation are being championed throughout a channel of “time, energy, authority and resources to testing those ideas and the possibilities for innovation carried in those ideas”.

The BetaCodex model is one of this new design models following this general principles. The Holacracy model is another one. Just recently Zappos made an announcement on going holacratic.

At the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT we are going to discuss the principles and challenges for these new network orientated designs with talks by Lee Bryant and Bernard Chiquet.

Concluding on my expectation for 2014 my hopes for this year’s discussion are keyed around a more systematic and differentiated approach. With the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT as the start for the E20 conference circus we are very much working on delivering a first contribution to this expectation and are very much looking forward to it.

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.