A Pirate’s Approach to E2.0

“The floggings will continue until morale improves” is a famous pirate saying that could well be the motto of some old school knowledge managers who are trying to join the cool folks at the social media party. At least twice in as many weeks I’ve heard reports of misguided flogging within organizations in New York. In one instance an old school KM type suggested that the best way to help knowledge workers overcome their reluctance to shift to microblogs, blogs and wikis from e-mail was simply to force them out of e-mail. In another instance an old school KM type decided to encourage a knowledge worker to try an Enterprise 2.0 tool by hounding the poor person to death. In both cases, these knowledge managers were trapped in their command-and-control approach to life, not realizing that a successful Enterprise 2.0 deployment is by definition the antithesis of their modus operandi.

Paula Thornton suggests that the key to avoiding a pirate’s flogging approach is to use good design in your E2.0 deployment:

If you have to “drive adoption” you’ve failed at 2.0 design and implementation. The fundamentals of 2.0 are based on design that is organic — meets the individual where they are and adapts based on feedback — it emerges. The ‘adoption’ comes from rigorous ‘adaptation’ — it continuously morphs based on involvement from the ‘masses’. If done right, you can’t keep them away…because you’ve brought the scratch for their itch.

Her comments serve to highlight the fundamental difference between top-down old style KM and bottom-up emergent Enterprise 2.0.  The pirates think they can make you participate, while those wiser about E2.0 understand that the right tool in the hands of the right group will be adopted with enthusiasm because it meets user needs.

In the world of Enterprise 2.0, flogging people into submission and participation is a sure sign that you’ve missed the whole point of the exercise.  When that happens, it’s time for you to walk the plank.

[Photo Credit:  Grant MacDonald]

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9 thoughts on “A Pirate’s Approach to E2.0

  • July 11, 2009 at 12:56 am
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    Oddly, while I can readily throw water on KM'ers, I never really paid attention to the similarities in behaviors with badly implemented E2.0 efforts. But given that within IT new technologies and initiatives are often simply handed to people with absolutely no experience in the discipline, the madness would just perpetuate itself.

    Great insights.

  • July 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm
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    Thanks, Paula. I think it makes a huge difference if the folks implementing the technology have used it for a little while. If they haven't, they are total hostages of their preconceptions and of the vendors. Until I actually started blogging and microblogging, I had no idea of the power (and quirks) of these tools.

    There is no substitute for the insight that comes from experience.

    – Mary

  • July 13, 2009 at 4:33 am
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    Hi Mary,
    Great Post

    I read this great anecdote from Anthony de Mello,

    “….So he blurted out the truth
    ” to avoid your Majesty” (when met with Fredrich Wilhelm, ruler of Prussia on a street on one of his Berlin walks)
    “Why would you wish to avoid me?”
    “Beacuse I am afraid of your majesty”
    At this Fredrich Wilhelm became lived with rage. Seizing the poor man by the shoulders he shoook him violently crying,
    “How dare you fear me! I am your ruler. You are supposed to love me! Love me, wretch! Love me”

    Original from Prayer of the Frog Vol 1, paranthesis my addition.

    I think this is exactly what's going on with E2.0 as well.

    Regards
    Murali

  • July 13, 2009 at 9:03 am
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    That's too funny!

    To be honest, I'm one of those folks who loves Web 2.0 and can see the real benefits of E2.0. What's tougher is finding the right path to adoption. I'm afraid that too many companies are trying to force employees to love E2.0, which works about as well as it does in our own relationships and in relations with the monarchy.

    Thanks, Murali.

    – Mary

  • July 14, 2009 at 6:44 pm
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    You make an important point here. I've read material from wiki consultant-types that talk about the importance of getting enterprise 2.0 support from the top down and the value of barn-raising events to encourage adoption. A good source is ikiw.org. That's just one source; there are plenty.

    For those interesting in investigating a wiki, free trials of eTouch SamePage are available via http://www.etouch.net.

  • July 14, 2009 at 9:43 pm
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    Abbe –

    Top down support is always welcome, but without serious enforcement, it rarely is sufficient to produce widespread participation. At the end of the day, emergent technologies do best when they are adopted in a bottom up manner.

    – Mary

  • July 14, 2009 at 10:44 pm
    Permalink

    You make an important point here. I've read material from wiki consultant-types that talk about the importance of getting enterprise 2.0 support from the top down and the value of barn-raising events to encourage adoption. A good source is ikiw.org. That's just one source; there are plenty.

    For those interesting in investigating a wiki, free trials of eTouch SamePage are available via http://www.etouch.net.

  • July 15, 2009 at 1:43 am
    Permalink

    Abbe –

    Top down support is always welcome, but without serious enforcement, it rarely is sufficient to produce widespread participation. At the end of the day, emergent technologies do best when they are adopted in a bottom up manner.

    – Mary

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