Organizations, business, operations is mainly people and processes and to a certain extent (let’s say 20% at the max) technology. That is my opinion. This posts reflects on that attitude and the consequences for E2.0 Deployment.
When speaking at national Data Warehousing conferences years ago I was surprised by two clear patterns:
- Each year, over 50% of the people in attendance were new to the field and often were there because they’d ‘inherited’ responsibility for a data warehousing initiative, but knew nothing about the industry or the practices.
- Because of #1, the majority of the attendees were under tremendous pressure to perform. They were looking for recipes — checklists that they could take home and just start working on.
This appears to be indicative of all emerging disciplines/practices.
But for Enterprise 2.0, unlike Data Warehousing, the predominant focus is NOT technology.
And yet, from where does the funding or focus from such initiatives typically come?
This is a much larger issue — one related to obsolete organizational design practices.
The reason IT is the most obvious choice for sponsorship is that it is the only organization not vertically challenged — it delivers (or should) only horizontal services to an enterprise — crossing all other departments. Indeed, IT is one of the few organizations that takes on the battle to find common threads across organizations to weave the horizontal lines of the tapestry that holds the business together.
- There are no rules; there are no requirements
An optimal E2.0 initiative evolves organically (hold that thought for further clarification). E2.0 initiatives are the canary for Business 2.0 — if they die, the business will as well (either absorbed by the larger market or re-emerging anew after an identity meltdown).
- The goal is not Binary Code
This is the realm for Design Thinking, not Analytical Thinking (previously noted: end of piece). As Roger Martin alludes to in The Design of Business (starting pg 6) this is an era to shift away from the locked down binary code of repeatability (optimal for machinery) and become more comfortable with the ’squishy’ realm of the heuristic (optimal for capitalizing on human wetware). It doesn’t mean that we abandon the right side of the continuum — mystery…heuristic…algorithm…binary code — but that we shift to the left.
- Controls are Nooses of Death
This is the realm of ‘middles’: neither chaos or order, but a powerful, constantly changing space called complexity (think practice of ’science’ not ‘lots of pieces’). IT is still focused on increasing controls to improve results — increasing compliance, embracing defined practices of Project Management, etc. If you’re building a spaceship and lives are at stake, these practices are a must. If you’re running a company in today’s turbulent marketplace, everything that is locked down and fixed prevents the real human capital of the organization from adapting to constantly changing circumstances. There is never an ideal process or system and there will always be exceptions. IT cannot respond fast enough to these changes. That means the flexibility has to be built into the systems. This is not to suggest that controls are abandoned — it simply means that all of the existing controls have to be questioned and likely changed for greater human oversight throughout the organization (managed via a distributed social governance model, not a hierarchy).
- It’s not about a Blog or a Wiki
A true sign of a E2.0 initiative destined for failure is one that focuses on the technologies. Certainly there are a variety of technologies that enhance and help to enable E2.0, but even as technologies, they are absolutely ineffective when implemented with a typical IT approach: install them. Blogs, Wikis, Mashups, and other Social Computing mechanisms are elements of a flexible infrastructure. As a solution they have to be architected. This will prove problematic for most IT groups for the same reason that SOA has failed — IT hires ‘drafters’ not ‘architects’. In company after company, the majority of people I’ve met who hold ‘architect’ titles know nothing about real design: they can draft solutions, but not architect them (the problem starts with the job descriptions — check out some postings).
So what IS Enterprise 2.0 focused on?
People: tapping the human potential, helping to change the way business gets done by optimizing it not to the systems but to the people. Not shaping the people (via training and documentation) to the systems and the business, but changing the systems and the business to optimize the potential of the people.
Enterprise 2.0 is a mindset, framed by the orders of nature: enabling endless possibilities, organizing simple things in simple ways.
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