Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This week in links - week 6, 2009

This set of links contain a number of insights which are highly valuable to any organization that is to embark (or is thinking about doing so) on an Enterprise 2.0 journey.

There are two points of tension emerging in this recession that may allow for innovation in management practices.

Wider distribution of leadership. This recession has brought into stark perspective the role of the leader. Up to this point, the dominant norm has been the “command and control” leadership style. In this model, the organisation is viewed as a hierarchy in which decisions are escalated to the top, where a CEO makes the decisions...//...at the same time, insights from research in decision sciences and technological advances have shown that often the best decisions are made by an “intelligent crowd”, rather than one all-powerful individual.

Creating flexible virtual teams. Past recessions have often served to accelerate the adoption of management practices and processes that already had some popularity pre-recession. The same is true of the technology and mindset that supports virtual working. Assembling teams to work on projects and task forces has become more viable in the past decade, often hastened by the pressures of globalisation. Yet while virtual working is emerging as a trend, there is still an assumption that face-to-face working trumps virtual working. At the same time, research I have conducted with my colleagues on teams across the world has shown that many fail to utilise the technologies available to them.

RSS (Real simple syndication) is perhaps the greatest Web 2.0 technology... that you've have never heard of (well, not us, but our less nerdy friends and colleagues).

According to the Intranet 2.0 Global Study findings (400 respondent organizations from across the globe), RSS has been adopted by 37% of organizations, but only 13% have adopted it at an enterprise level.

Not surprisingly, more organizations have adopted wikis, discussion forums and blogs...//...But RSS, along with search, helps make the above social media 'sticky' and reusable. In other words, blogs and wikis often spawn RSS adoption. The numbers support this: only 10% of the respondent organizations don't have any plans to adopt RSS. Most will adopt it at some point in the next 2 years; it is how many of us will keep returning to blogs and forums that we care about.

In the case of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 technologies, they become more useful the more people use them.

For example, social bookmarking or tagging is of limited value if adopted by just a handful of people, but can be extremely valuable in making information search more effective, if used by the majority of people in an organization.

This changes the shape of the adoption curve. Once there are sufficient users, the value increases, accelerating uptake. This is arguably the case with any system where there are network effects, however the mechanisms of Web 2.0 accelerate this increase in value.

This does not fundamentally transform the nature of user adoption initiatives in organizations, but it does change some of the dynamics and effective strategies.

For Enterprise 2.0 technologies far more than for other technologies, the real focus and the battle needs to be on moving from the early adopter group to the point of 'critical mass', where sufficient usage of the technologies is rapidly accelerating their value to users, and uptake should be far more rapid.

If you’re managing the introduction of enterprise social software at your organization, bottom-up doesn’t work. Bottom-up can’t be managed. And bottom-up happens at its own speed, which doesn’t work when you have deadlines.

So you’ve got to go with top-down. A planned roll-out. An orchestrated launch. And I have never, ever come across an enterprise social software launch as fast, well-orchestrated and effective as the one Penn State Outreach did last week.

Penn State Outreach’s enterprise social software project was groundbreaking in several ways. It was the first time:
  • an Outreach cross-functional group got together and was highly effective
  • Outreach was unified under one technology/one way of doing things
  • Outreach marketed directly to the employees vs. distributing information through multiple layers of management
Most importantly to me, as an enterprise social software vendor: this was the shortest “decision-to-implementation” project that the organization has ever undertook.


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