There’s No Easy Magic in E2.0

Have you noticed the breathless, starry-eyed approach of some Enterprise 2.0 advocates? To be honest, I’ve been guilty of it myself on occasion. In part, it comes from the excitement experienced when you first glimpse the transformative powers of social media tools and let your mind race ahead to the day when organizations operate differently — with real collaboration and transparency. For many, however, the distance between their current reality and this E2.0 dream is great and may seem impossible to bridge. Into this state of frustration comes what can appear to be the magic of E2.0. This has led some fervent E2.0 advocates to take an “if you build it they will come” approach or, in E2.0 terms, “if you provide it they will transform” approach.  Their operating idea seems to be that social media tools are so easy to use and so viral, that once you introduce them into your organization they will spread like wildfire with little effort on the part of the knowledge manager.  Unfortunately, too many of us are discovering that this is not necessarily the case.

In his report on the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference, Lee Bryant writes:

Adoption was a big theme at E20 this year, but I find the whole notion of adoption, which usually means software adoption, to be slightly problematic. What we really should be talking about is redesigning organisations and their networks to harness people power to get things done quicker, better and cheaper, and enabling businesses to scale in a better way. This, not tool use, is probably the goal of social business design and E20.

While he’s undoubtedly right, organizational redesign may be more of an assignment than most of the E2.0 magical thinkers were prepared to take on.  In fact, they are still struggling to gain traction for their social media efforts and are beginning to realize that the tools are just tools and not magic.  For these folks, Lee has a wealth of experience to share regarding Transition Strategies for E2.0 Adoption and offers some sound practical advice:

  • Build quickly and iterate rapidly
  • Add a social layer to existing tools
  • Focus on quick wins, but be strategic

Do you believe in magic?  If so, that’s nice — but don’t look for it to appear without serious effort on your part in the early stages of your E2.0 implementation.  Rather, plan like a general while retaining the flexibility to adapt your approach and deploy your social media tools differently to meet the changing needs of the people in your organization.  It’s that flexibility and adaptation that ultimately conjure up the real magic of E2.0.

[Photo Credit:  The Rocketeer]

Share

9 thoughts on “There’s No Easy Magic in E2.0

  • August 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm
    Permalink

    Excellent blogpost…I subscribe to the idea of beginning with “re-imagining” how to share knowledge within the organization first, not re-structuring. Finding the quick wins, small ways for people doing/interacting in a different way, will pave the way for more extended methods of social networking within the company. This is definitely a “ground-up” process, the tools are just there for people to use or to latch onto as they begin to reach out to a wider network for knowledge retrieval and sharing. Recall the simple maxim of “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” Thus with social networking – you can provide the tools, but you cannot make the user implement them — until the user sees the benefit of the process behind them.

  • August 12, 2009 at 9:01 am
    Permalink

    Believing in magic would be like believing in miracles. I'm not sure either exist but plenty of people will argue they do. I absolutely agree with your comments regarding the adoption of these types of tools. It's all too easy to get carried away with the “magic” of the tools and their potential and ignore the fact that people have to use them!

  • August 12, 2009 at 9:12 am
    Permalink

    Mary,

    Excellent post, thank you! I am working toward a very similar mindset for
    my organization – objective is to expand our knowledge sharing process and
    scope, with the understanding that I must find strong sponsors along with
    users who are ready for the change, and the tools to effectively facilitate
    a move to new ways of collaboration and knowledge discovery. One of the
    greatest challenges is to “allow” people to go where you want them to
    go…letting them discover that the new direction is beneficial to them.

    Regards,

    Aaron

  • August 13, 2009 at 8:06 am
    Permalink

    James –

    You’re right that we should be more realistic. However, it can be hard if we’re swimming in vendor hype.

    – Mary

  • August 13, 2009 at 9:03 am
    Permalink

    Aaron –

    You're wise to focus on users as well as sponsors. Working on a top-down basis alone rarely is successful. What methods are you using to “allow people to go where you want them to go?”

    – Mary

  • August 13, 2009 at 11:17 am
    Permalink

    Hi Mary,

    Well, I'm just diving into this at our office so not a lot of specific
    approaches yet. One of the things I have suggested is for our admin staff
    to move notices of available “freebies” – sports tickets, event openings and
    tickets, etc. to our Yammer site rather than using email. Our company is
    very positively focused on employee wellness, and sponsors many events as
    well as provides a lot of wellness bulletins and so forth. I am hoping we
    can move that endeavor over to Yammer as well. All of this provides a
    crucial piece missing in email communication – interaction. We have a few
    dedicated users on Yammer, but not wide-spread buy-in so hope this is one
    way to get people used to going there.

    I have also been setting up Meeting Workspaces in SharePoint, now will use
    our leadership group as a pilot to get them involved in using workspaces;
    hopefully, they will then make use of that tool in their client projects to
    provide more inter-action through agenda development, decision capture,
    note-taking, etc..

    I have had some success in bringing key individuals “into the fold” in using
    OneNote – so far just as individual installs, but hoping to see interest in
    using that tool for sharing, much like a wiki model in terms of
    collaborating on project notes, etc. We are intending to focus on
    SharePoint, but plug-in's or layers such as OneNote, NewsGator, SocialText
    are interesting to me to provide enhanced capabilities such as tagging,
    communities, search, etc. These tools are geared toward user involvement
    and may be more attractive at the bottom-up level.

    Aaron

  • August 13, 2009 at 1:03 pm
    Permalink

    Aaron –

    You're wise to focus on users as well as sponsors. Working on a top-down basis alone rarely is successful. What methods are you using to “allow people to go where you want them to go?”

    – Mary

  • August 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Mary,

    Well, I'm just diving into this at our office so not a lot of specific
    approaches yet. One of the things I have suggested is for our admin staff
    to move notices of available “freebies” – sports tickets, event openings and
    tickets, etc. to our Yammer site rather than using email. Our company is
    very positively focused on employee wellness, and sponsors many events as
    well as provides a lot of wellness bulletins and so forth. I am hoping we
    can move that endeavor over to Yammer as well. All of this provides a
    crucial piece missing in email communication – interaction. We have a few
    dedicated users on Yammer, but not wide-spread buy-in so hope this is one
    way to get people used to going there.

    I have also been setting up Meeting Workspaces in SharePoint, now will use
    our leadership group as a pilot to get them involved in using workspaces;
    hopefully, they will then make use of that tool in their client projects to
    provide more inter-action through agenda development, decision capture,
    note-taking, etc..

    I have had some success in bringing key individuals “into the fold” in using
    OneNote – so far just as individual installs, but hoping to see interest in
    using that tool for sharing, much like a wiki model in terms of
    collaborating on project notes, etc. We are intending to focus on
    SharePoint, but plug-in's or layers such as OneNote, NewsGator, SocialText
    are interesting to me to provide enhanced capabilities such as tagging,
    communities, search, etc. These tools are geared toward user involvement
    and may be more attractive at the bottom-up level.

    Aaron

Comments are closed.