The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0

Greg Lowe and Kathleen Culver gave a reprise of their much-praised presentation first given at the E2.0 Conference in San Francisco.


[These are my quick notes, complete with  (what I hope is no more than) the occasional typo and grammatical error.  Please excuse those. Thanks!

From time to time, I’ll insert my own editorial comments – exercising the prerogatives of the blogger.  I’ll show those in brackets. ]


  • Constant electronic connection provides lots of well-known benefits
    • Gives flexibility
    • Reduces need to travel
  • However, there is a downside – and that’s the Dark Side of E2.0
    • You are constantly interrupted
    • You lose the flow
    • There is less downtime – required to respond constantly
    • less play
    • put your close relationships at risk
    • problem of burnout from being “on” 24/7
    • poor performance – interruptions distract you and make you less able to perform – almost as if you had too much to drink
  • Cites Tony Schwartz’ The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working
    • We aren’t computers that can stay “on” all the time
    • High performers have a particular pattern to their work – they have periods of deep focus followed by downtime — even they don’t try to perform at a peak level 24/7
  • Because we can use E2.0 to avoid travel, we can work remotely.  This means that we don’t meet in person as much any more. This leads
    • to more misunderstanding because we miss subtle non-verbal clues
    • it is harder to achieve comaraderie and a sense of rapport with out colleagues.
  • Part of how we absorb information is involves more than just ingesting raw data – we absorb  information better when we have other physical sensations at the same time (you remember better what someone tells you when you are holding a cup of hot coffee in the cafeteria – more inputs -than when you are reading an e-mail without other physical sensation)
  • Cites Daniel Goleman’s work on mirror neurons, which are important for our ability to empathize.  University of Michigan study reports that there has been a 40% decline in the empathy of college students in the last 20 years due to the fact that they interact remotely more frequently.
  • Why should a company care? Comraderie and rapport are correlated to loyalty.  Empathy helps build comraderie and rapport.
  • New 2.0 venues give us broader input/perspective, multlingual advantages, opportunities to buildcorporate knowledge and creates new corporate behaviors and culture.
  • new 2.0 venues can lead to “Exposure Bias.”  Because not every employee will be able to master these new 2.0 venues, the ones that do will enjoy the benefits of visibility (exposure).  The quiet ones will be crowded out. The ones who contribute and participate will have more perceived popularity and expertise.  Will this lead people to game the system in order to drive up their rankings? This isn’t the desired behavior – we need the true experts participating.
  • Old behaviors then appear in “new clothes” – for example, managers press gang people into their communities in order to show higher participation numbers even though these people haven’t joined for the right reasons and most likely won’t add value
  • E2.0 can provide easy access to information.  Greg Lowe calls this the “information candy store.”  The downside of this is information overload.  This can lead to huge loss of productivity.
  • Citing Daniel Schwartz’ work on The Paradox of Choice – the more choice we have, the higher the stakes regarding the decision, yet we tend to lose confidence in our ability to make a good choice.
  • With too much information, even the most careful, focused person can fall into analysis paralysis in a good faith attempt to make a good decision.
  • The biggest risks of E2.0:
    • loss of productivity
    • risk of burnout
    • negative impact on the quality of decisions
    • threats to employee morale and happiness
  • However, the Dark Side still can’t be quantified.  Therefore, E2.0 is still safe from business case risks – however, there is a risk to individuals.
  • How do you mitigate the impact of the Dark Side?
    • Avoid “alert fatigue”
    • Unplug yourself
    • Make an effort to meet in person as often as possible
    • Remember the ‘wallflowers” – make sure you’re engaging with the folks who are less likely to jump into E2.0
    • Improve your ability to filter the noise – this is not a one-time action. As your priorities change, you need to change your filters so that only the most relevant information comes through the filter.
  • This advice is like “eat healthy and exercise.” In other words, it’s easier saiid than done.
  • For example, we get addicted to Alerts becase we get a little rush when someone gives us a good comment on our work or our activity stream.
  • We fear loss of reputation if we aren’t always active and recognized as an expert.
  • We don’t want to be seen as non-responsive.
  • Immunity to change – it’s extremely hard to makes these changes.  We have habits for how we work.  While it is possible to change habits, this requires real mental focus. Unfortunately, multitasking has a negative impact on our ability to must the level of focus and persistence necessary to change habits.
  • Citing [Daniel Segal called Blindside]
  • Citing Barbara Ehrenreidt Brightsiding – about the relentless flood of positive information that masks the real issues and helps people avoid the thought, analysis and discussions that are necessary to actually achieve true rather than fake positive results.
  • Focus: We are responsible for what we pay attention to.  What we attend to is what we remember and shapes who we are and what we are able to achieve.  Therefore, pay attention to your attention – just as much as you pay attention to your health and your money.

One thought on “The Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0

  1. Really interesting post, Mary. Good idea to have a presentation on 'the other side' of enterprise 2.0. Also to think this though. These negative stories/facts can be used against you when proposing a new e2.0 experiment.

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