Enterprise 2.0 explained to our managers in 10 principles

(Hi, it’s Cecil here. This is a translation of an original french post published on Heavy Mental).

One of the most common misconceptions our managers make when they talk about Enterprise 2.0 is to reduce this approach to a mere web2zero (quote mark with the fingers) collaborative toolset. We can smile about it, but if we get this kind of misunderstanding, it’s probably because we missed something while communicating around this.

In the slideshared Enterprise 2.0 presentation, I realized that I only devoted one slide to the underlying changes.

It’s critical for people to understand that while importing these social platforms from the Internet, we also import an underlying electronic culture that will profoundly change the workplace organization. And these changes involve management principles. 10 of which being described hereafter …

1 – Conversation (Vs Broadcast)

Just as traditional media conditioned the audience to be passive consumers — first of commercial messages, then of products — the traditional organization conditioned employees to be obedient executors of bureaucratically disseminated work orders. Both are forms of broadcast: the few dictating the behavior of the many. The broadcast mentality isn’t dead by any means. It’s just become suicidal. (Christopher Locke – Cluetrain Manifesto)

This medium based on open conversations has irrevocably changed not only our electronic culture but also the way we apprehend social relationships. It will become increasingly difficult for our management to have us accept a one-way communication (top down) while we are used to bi-directional ones in our everyday online life. Reducing our contribution to enterprise communication field to 5mns Q&A at the end of General Meetings will quickly become unsustainable.

2 – Bottom up (Vs Top Down)

It’s about the same as far as technologies choice is concerned when it comes to develop new product/services. As Tim Bray put it : Decisions on key technologies are now being taken by developers and not by leaders at the turn of a golf course.

This a similar trend to that of Toyota workers on assembly lines. In this company, recognized worldwide for its amazing processes, the employee contribution to innovation is permanent :

The average Toyota employee Contributes more than 100 improvement ideas each year. That quickly adds up to millions of ideas. Certainly most of them are incremental ideas, in fact, most of them probably are not even new ideas. But while the actual ideas are important, even more important is the culture In which this spirit is nurtured.

It is not only a matter of innovation, but also recognition, rewarding and job commitment. This is pure Management.

3 – Reputation (Vs Hierarchy)

Another fundamental aspect in the participatory culture imported from the internet is the concept of Reputation. In Enterprise 1.0, the job title embodies the status of the employee within the company. This concept is substituted in the internet culture with Reputation, i.e. the quantified assessment of the contribution of the individual by his peers.

This significantly broadens the scope of reference for people skills evaluation, from the sole enterprise to the whole Internet.  The consequence is that the reputation built by an employee on the intranet and internet will have to be taken into account in one way or another within the company.

Conversely, hierarchy granted power will not necessarily be recognized among employees if it is not validated by a significant reputation in the intranet / internet. This is the Granted Power Vs Earned Power issue discussed by Scott Berkun in the Trust chapter of The Art Of Project Management.

3 – Emergence (Vs Structure)

There is this unquestionable statement : the Web works. The Web was built without a predetermined structure. Unexpected solutions have emerged naturally and were massively adopted : this also is called Serendipity.

As an example, hyper-text has naturally fostered the relevance of Google and has helped to classify the web. No one has written in the Web_User_Guide.doc that whenever we publish resources to the web we have to make links to other pages. This has just happened and it has shaped the internet as we know it.

4 – Folksonomy (Vs Taxonomy)

Similarly, Folksonomy has naturally taken precedence over Taxonomy when it came to classify the ocean of information available on the web. Namely, according to Wikipedia, a system of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content performed by non-specialists, rather than a rigorous and structured classification.

The advantage of folksonomy is that information is classified according to its contents, with labels (tags) that anyone can choose. While with the Taxonomy, the information is classified according to its location. Folksonomy has two advantages: a) we find pieces of information more easily and b) within collaborative platforms, these tags help in finding quickly people we share thematic affinities with.

If you give it a thought, it makes sense : when we put our information in order, we do it to find the information quickly afterwards. Not to build an harmonious and logical tree of information.

5 – Agility (Vs Bureaucracy)

Agile project management (focusing on transparency, simplicity, collaboration, visual management, simplicity and trust) helps greatly in absorbing the inevitable changes that occur during the life of a project development.

Similarly, the Enterprise 2.0 needs an agile organization that enables to absorb the emergence of new tools, practices and relationships. Among other things, this open organization allows emergence and promotes innovation.

Agility also meets the high demands of connected culture, namely the radical pragmatism (to quote Alexander Bard) and the obsession in Getting Things Done. Productivity rather than processes, speed of execution rather than bureaucratic slowness, frequent releases, etc. …

6- Transparency (Vs Security)

Before anything, let’s make sure we share the same understanding of what type of company information we apply transparency to. It obviously does not apply to sensitive and confidential pieces of information. But to any other.

Talking with managers helps to reveals the main fear it inspires. According to managers, it may let emerge the fallibility of their teams and/or themselves.

The thing is : when honestly undertaken in a context of trust and addressed quickly, these errors and potential problems help to give a human face and to create genuine links between the teams. As Herman Melville puts it :

“Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses — for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it…”

On the other hand, the temptation of security, of building silos of knowledge accessed through complex algorithms which rule rights access can contribute to add friction, to slow down the diffusion of knowledge and to nurture a sense of paranoia. Which is not a good for teams morale.

7 – Intertwined Networks (Vs Silos)

Transparency is about information sharing, on both vertical and transverse organization axis. This multi directional communication helps fostering efficiency as it ensures that employees know what the priorities and business strategy are. In addition, it also nurtures innovation through the use of Weak Ties of Mark Granovetter (see Enterprise 2.0 Presentation).

Besides, broadening the scope of knowledge of collaborators to the activities of the company as a whole allow them to give a meaning to their professional contribution. This is a fuel to collaborator commitment.

8 – Simplicity (Vs complexity)

Agile is focused on driving towards simplicity rather than creating systems that manage complexity (Mike Cottmeyer et V. Lee Henson  The Agile business Analyst)

Simplicity is a core agile principle and agile organization is a critical component of Enterprise 2.0. Therefore, it is necessary to resist the mysterious charms and the intellectually stimulating complexity of potential solutions / organization / processes. The aim is to strive for simplicity in the implementation of social networks in the enterprise.

9 – User-oriented technologies (Vs IT Governance)

One of the main feature identified by Andrew McAfee in his presentation on Enterprise 2.0 is the concept of simple tools and easy access. The usability has became the key quality criteria against which we rate online applications. The main difference between internet applications (Facebook etc …) and intranet’s : the budget share spent on design and usability: about 10 times more for the internet applications.

Again, it will become increasingly difficult to impose anti-ergonomic and unusable intranet tools to people that use Twitter or Facebook day-in day-out. The main reason is that applications developed without usability concerns are neither pleasant to use nor productive.

10 – Trust (Vs Control)

This is the basic principle as it determines all others.

Without Trust there cannot be transparency in information. There cannot be an organisation flexible enough to let emergence happens. There cannot be an open bottom-up communication.

Without Trust, Management will only prevail in the implementation of complex processes to define the inflexible scope of responsibilities of knowledge workers. Without Trust it is not possible to establish an organization which leverages the agility, speed (refer to Stephen Covey Jr. book) and productivity offered by the net.

Without Trust, the management will not abandon the command and control strategy. And the required space for effective implementation of collaborative tools shall never appear.

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7 Responses to “Enterprise 2.0 explained to our managers in 10 principles”

  1. @rotkapchen says:

    Close, but not quite. E 2.0 embraces a lot of 'both'.
    1. Conversation is relevant, but so is broadcast. One of the best E2.0 adoptions I've seen was where the company disabled all email group distribution lists, requiring anything relevant to be 'broadcast' via email to be moved to the E2.0 platform.

    2. It's neither bottom up or top down. Indeed, the beauty of E2.0 is that it 'flattens' the organization. That means there is no bottom or top. Suggesting that it's bottom up just embraces a concept that E2.0 eschews.

    3. Emergence requires some structure (see the lava lamp analogy http://www.fastforwardblog.com/2009/09/16/e2-0-un...

    4. Folksonomy is relevant to individuals, but it is really bad for using tagging as an architectural mechanism to manage flow. For example, you can do away with programmed workflow and replace it with work that flows on conversations with tags. The standard list of tags would effectively be a taxonomy.

    5. Agility is nice, but so many are so used to the principles of Project Management (and the corresponding controls) that many existing practices of Agile are bastardized to the point that it's difficult to use the term with any degree of confidence that people who claim to be practicing it actually are. Take it to Scrum and you're doing a bit better.

    6. I agree with you fundamentally here. But again, there's still need for a balance (you even intimated the same).

    7. [Isn't an intertwined network redundant? Sounds a whole lot like 'spaghetti code' to me?] Again, fundamentally agree, but the description leaves me flat.

    8. Complexity IS simplicity. The concepts of complexity science are fundamental to E2.0. It's clear from your comments here that you're not familiar with the relevance or the meaning.

    9. User oriented technologies vs. IT governance? How about user-oriented governance vs. IT technology? The latter is E2.0.

    10. I'll give you the last one : )

  2. השיטוטים של השבוע: 29 לנובמבר – 5 לדצמבר 2009 : ארבעה כיווני מידע says:

    [...] כיצד להסביר את E2.0 למנהלים: Enterprise 2.0 explained to our managers in 10 principles [...]

  3. @SameerPatel says:

    Hey Paula
    re: . Conversation is relevant, but so is broadcast. One of the best E2.0 adoptions I've seen was where the company disabled all email group distribution lists, requiring anything relevant to be 'broadcast' via email to be moved to the E2.0 platform.

    Then you might love this: http://bit.ly/7F5zSB

  4. ceciiil says:

    Hi Paula,

    Hey, many thanks for this long reply. Generally speaking of course E2.0 embraces a lot of both. But keep in mind the idea here is to convince managers who are not E2.0 fan about the need of having a paradigm shift with the principles they use to take decision in their day to day management.

    1- When I talk about broadcast i'm talking about the old broadcast way where some happy few broadcast to the masses without any way for the latter to reply. These days are over. Of course we all broadcast but a) this is mass broadcasting, I.e you and I can broadcast and b) this engages conversation – i.e you are able to reply. Which is completely different to the old broadcast way as Chris Locke spots it

    2- you definitely are right on this one; i've never been very comfortable with it either. I guess it was there to make the number but that's a second mistake as there already was one too many. So you're right it's not quite there : I promise 10 principles and there are 11 (2 #3) so that's already 10% off the mark.

    3- emergence may requires structure, just like an enterprise with E2.0 approach needs structure. What I wanted to stress was that E2.0 needs the absence of too much predetermined structure to be successful. Managers love to put too much predetermine structure, especially on methodologies they are not familiar with. This makes innovation and emergence suffocate.

    4- I am talking about folksonomy to handle information. I don't now about workflow. But my bet is that if you're using pre-determined tags as in enterprise folksonomy, this is still folksonomy and not taxonomy. I.e it's still information findable through meta data as opposed to their location.

    5- Actually, every single points would deserve a full blog post on their own. Agree with you : it's quite easy to pretend doing agility in order to relieve oneself from commitment, etc …When I talk about agility, I mean the agile manifesto and getting real (37 signals). Probably the most agile bunch of hackers in the world and they don't use Scrum. But agree that scrum is a quite efficient framework. Actually, i've wrote about it in techiteasy already and I've been practicing it for about 2 years now.

    6- There obviously needs for balance on every single point. Again, the objective here is to make ol fashion managers think that there is a strong need of paradigm shift.

    7- As far as interwined networks are concerned, this is a translation of a french post. In France we talk about someone's or some team's "réseau" (singular). I guess it makes more sense talking about interwining all these personal and team networks in french, then.

    8- Complexity is simplicity. And black is white, if you put enough Red, Green and Blue in it. I guess I am not relevant talking about the complexity science, but that’s ok because that’s not what I intended to do here. But I have enough experience in the industry to make the difference between professionals that make life difficult to everybody setting up complex systems to impress people (and God knows there is quite a few of them), with professionals that make life easier to everyone striving from simplicity. That's what the quote of Cottmeier is all about. And that's what this point is all about. But simplicity is complex, that's for sure. As Mark from 37signals puts it : "Simple requires deep thought, discipline, and patience – things that many companies lack".

    7- Surely not. IT technology is HTML, Ajax and web servers, all of which we wouldn't be discussing without today. IT Governance is "No one has ever been fired for buying IBM" or "We are an Oracle House so we'll put an Oracle system as an E2.0 solution because this is the company IT policy" regardless of the usability of the solution. So I stick with IT governance as the enemy and user-oriented technologies and technical solutions as the goal.

    10- You're far too generous ;)

  5. @rlavigne42 says:

    Great basis for a #E20 Manifesto Cecil. Bravo, Robert

  6. cecil says:

    thanks Robert !

  7. cecil says:


    I am reading Enterprise 2.0 book from Andrew McAfee and I now have a better understanding of your point about complexity science.

    I believe that what you mean is that complexity science helps in understanding how structure emerge from pattern of usage from multiple users.

    And I understand that my understanding of emergence is a bit shallow compared to the actual meaning that Andrew of yourself can put behind Emergence, again, based on complexity science.

    However I stick to my take against complexity in a organisational environment : as Scott Berkun puts it nicely, there are 2 types of people : complexifiers and simplifiers.

    And I have noticed that we just achieve far more with the second category of people.

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