John Tropea


1.) What is your name?

John Tropea

2.) Who are you and what are you doing?

I work for a global engineering and EPCM firm, and am the Communities of Practice Global Facilitator…hoping to include social networking in the near future.

My area of expertise is facilitating groups online to connect, communicate, coordinate, collaborate and share information according to the context of their current processes, constraints, issues, and needs. Helping them become aware and in the loop of what is happening both within the group and outside. Common types of groups are teams, cross-functional communities, and task groups; each of these having their unique dynamics.

3.) How did you get to the E2.0 topic?

I started off as an academic librarian. I did current awareness and research for many people and knew what people were interested in…this meant I was able to connect like people together. But I thought why can’t this be done in a distributed and resilient way. This led me to the cognitive and design aspects of KM, and to new organisational designs and behaviours that are packaged as enterprise 2.0.

4.) What is your understanding of the core concept of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

  • A new operating system based on different ideals, designs and structures
  • For people to be engaged at work, rather than be seen as assets
  • A focus on engagement rather than sharing…through design and facilitation you have better conditions to achieve your goal… sharing and heightened awareness will happen by default
  • A somewhat role-based network organisational structure where people connect and are aware, have diverse input, acknowledge and action emergent outcomes, find suitable tasks and people…basically to exploit the collective knowledge to make better decisions and have an innovative edge
  • A focus on complexity theory based on experimenting, manipulating for favourable conditions, monitoring and feeding back, rather than an addiction to plans and outcomes, targets and rewards. Being more transparent, adaptive, agile, and resilient

5.) What are the main potentials of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

As Euan Semple says these new social platforms can finally legitimise informal networks. Closing the gap between the c-level and the frontline (“we” rather than “us” and “them”), a more transparent, two-way communication, feedback and bypassing the levels of hierarchy. Preventing blockage of information and re-interpretations, welcoming and capitalising on feedback. This is a new approach and leveling, and can be amplified by the use of social tools. Two things come to my mind: Improve awareness and the seminal lack of communication syndrome, and co-create change so it’s relevant to the frontline. It also means working socially productive in silos and bridging silos using visible and open group tools, and connecting silos via enterprise-wide networks. E 2.0 provides workers with tools to communicate and share their exceptions to processes…let’s face it procedures are not clairvoyant, every context brings up unique aspects to current processes. E 2.0 leads to social productivity and activities like crowdsourcing are now achievable by connecting and conversing in public by default, rather than private by default (like the current email way). This is a move from PC (Personal computing) to SC (Social computing). But I’m not too sure how decision making being done in a social way will pan out; if we really want to talk about democracy that is…maybe a committee. It just depends on who owns the firm really. And since these interactions happen in the open, everyone learns for free on a daily basis, a pull system where workers pick up signals with their radar. Referencing Jim McGee: New social tools reprise the concept of observable work that we lost with the coming of the digital era. We now have the potential to tap into the “know-how” and “know-why”, rather than just the “know-what” we get in deliverables and documents. We are interested in the conversations and brainwork. When reading a deliverable we wonder why things are they way they are, what were the many micro-decisions and now we can go back to those fragments if we worked using social tools – this is the real corporate memory. The beauty of it is these fragments can be assembled together (re-mixed) for different contexts. Then the output of that work can be traced back to the artifacts (the workings out) and re-hashed, and so on. The whole idea is not re-use but re-mix…malleable objects that live in a flux…basically fragments as springboards to continuous knowledge creation. Ahhh, just read Oscar Berg’s post on social tools being our coping mechanism

6.) What are the main challenges, threats and issues of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

Control…simple as that! Bottom-up is not enough, we need a new organisational design, a top-down shift in ideals. At the moment we have worker 2.0 and group 2.0, but we need management 2.0 to make enterprise 2.0 happen.

My top 10

  • 1. We share with people we trust, and share when we are engaged, rather than incentives and rewards, and now we have new social tools that appeal to intrinsic motivations
  • 2. Some managers may feel dis-intermediated, especially those who rely on their status in controlling information flow, whereas managers who slant to the more leadership side of things welcome it. People worked a long time for their authority, and now comes along a way (eg blogs) to be influential by reputation
  • 3. Transparency, two-way communication, and co-creation are key to engaged workers
  • 4. We currently get rewarded for individual action, not collaboration or group output…or how much we help others on tasks we are not on…or how well we source the right people to help you on your task.
  • 5. Different units compete for resources
  • 6. Politics and power
  • 7. This one can be slowly overcome, and that’s changing routines and habits from email to new tools (as long as the new tool is designed for ease of use)
  • 8. A culture that is OK with sharing and learning from failure
  • 9. Psychological safety (it’s OK to be wrong or to speak up)
  • 10. In the past we only shared finished products in the open, and all the working out and know-why happens in closed email. There is now a change to “work-in-progress / status updates” happening in the open. With this we get more awareness, diverse feedback, reputation building, relationship building, learning… We can look back at a record of how things came to be…peripheral information, the conversations behind decisions. A report doesn’t compare as a raw record vs emails, phone, meetings…but all these things are behind closed doors.

7.) Please give us three tags that describe your person and work best?

Collaboration, Communication, Complexity

8.) Please give us a three links to articles/contributions that describe your views best?

Sorry I can’t decide, I’m giving you triple, here’s 9:

9.) Please give us three names of colleagues that you would refer to as brothers-in-spirit?

There are many of them, for example

  1. Bertrand Duperrin
  2. Harold Jarche
  3. Oscar Berg
  4. Jon Husband
  5. Hutch Carpenter
  6. Sameer Patel
  7. Paula Thornton



  1. Luis Suarez says:

    What a fantastic interview, Cathrin & John! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am really glad I had this as my first reading piece of the morning! Quite an inspiration, for sure! John has got so many insights on Enterprise 2.0, KM, Communities, Collaboration and a whole bunch of other things that his blog and tweets and “tumblrs” are a real treat for all of us in this industry! Fascinating read going through the interview and find all of these golden gems to share with everyone!

    Thanks a bunch for sharing it across and for sharing all of these wonderful references! Greatly appreciated!

    Well done, folks! :)


  2. Luis Suarez says:

    What a fantastic interview, Cathrin & John! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am really glad I had this as my first reading piece of the morning! Quite an inspiration, for sure! John has got so many insights on Enterprise 2.0, KM, Communities, Collaboration and a whole bunch of other things that his blog and tweets and “tumblrs” are a real treat for all of us in this industry! Fascinating read going through the interview and find all of these golden gems to share with everyone!

    Thanks a bunch for sharing it across and for sharing all of these wonderful references! Greatly appreciated!

    Well done, folks! :)


  3. John Tropea says:

    Thx for the interview Cathrin…it’s not easy summarizing over 5 years of my thought blogging and reading…this was something I needed to do.

    I have learnt about many things by reading bloggers, commenting and blogging myself…nothing better than DIY interactive education.

    Nice to receive comments and tweets by people I respect like luis, sameer and bertrand.

    I want to offer some more links about the “real enterprise 2.0″

    Bertrand on emphasis on “p2p service”, not just “collaboration” (goal oriented)
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1072321920/real-enterprise-2-0-is-about-service

    Social computing is a layer not a strategy
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1079513826/social-media-goals-are-derived-goals

    Larry Hawes on complementary process and people-centric systems
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1220117783/the-need-for-both-process-and-people-centric-systems

    Steve Denning on enterprise 2.0 being a new era when the firm is no longer an end to itself…now there’s a reason beyond profits, or at least an indirect reason anyway..one that serves people
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1057112884/now-this-is-the-real-enterprise-2-0
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1057090099/is-this-an-aspect-of-capitalism-2-0

    Control and authority don’t scale
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/969166602/real-enterprise-2-0-is-about-letting-go-of-control
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/969174325/influence-is-replacing-authority


  4. John Tropea says:

    Thx for the interview Cathrin…it’s not easy summarizing over 5 years of my thought blogging and reading…this was something I needed to do.

    I have learnt about many things by reading bloggers, commenting and blogging myself…nothing better than DIY interactive education.

    Nice to receive comments and tweets by people I respect like luis, sameer and bertrand.

    I want to offer some more links about the “real enterprise 2.0″

    Bertrand on emphasis on “p2p service”, not just “collaboration” (goal oriented)
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1072321920/real-enterprise-2-0-is-about-service

    Social computing is a layer not a strategy
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1079513826/social-media-goals-are-derived-goals

    Larry Hawes on complementary process and people-centric systems
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1220117783/the-need-for-both-process-and-people-centric-systems

    Steve Denning on enterprise 2.0 being a new era when the firm is no longer an end to itself…now there’s a reason beyond profits, or at least an indirect reason anyway..one that serves people
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1057112884/now-this-is-the-real-enterprise-2-0
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/1057090099/is-this-an-aspect-of-capitalism-2-0

    Control and authority don’t scale
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/969166602/real-enterprise-2-0-is-about-letting-go-of-control
    http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/969174325/influence-is-replacing-authority




  5. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi John! Thanks a bunch for the followup commentary and for adding further up such extensive resource library of rather insightful links. One of these days we would need to find a way to extract plenty more of what’s sitting inside your head, because, somehow, I sense that what’s available out there is just a small fraction of your extensive experiences and know-how on KM, Communities of Practice, Complexity, and Social Computing within the Enterprise. If a few days back I mentioned what an essential reading this blog post is, all the better this time around with these additional links!

    Thanks much for helping enlighten us all and please do keep blogging and sharing away! We will be following ya! :-))


  6. Luis Suarez says:

    Hi John! Thanks a bunch for the followup commentary and for adding further up such extensive resource library of rather insightful links. One of these days we would need to find a way to extract plenty more of what’s sitting inside your head, because, somehow, I sense that what’s available out there is just a small fraction of your extensive experiences and know-how on KM, Communities of Practice, Complexity, and Social Computing within the Enterprise. If a few days back I mentioned what an essential reading this blog post is, all the better this time around with these additional links!

    Thanks much for helping enlighten us all and please do keep blogging and sharing away! We will be following ya! :-))




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