The E2.0 Challenge: Be Disruptive

Albert on a bikeYour organization’s social media effort needs you to be a mad scientist..on wheels!


Forget the long production cycles, forget the boring committee meetings, forget the five-year plan.  Your Enterprise 2.0 project needs creativity and momentum.  The way to get it is to be an agent provocateur, an iconoclast. Someone willing to think outside the box.  Someone who will listen to your more creative customers — no matter how cranky, kooky or off-the-wall.  Someone who has the ability to find the golden nugget buried in a customer suggestion.  Above all, you need to connect the dots quickly and act with dispatch.  (Hence the wheels.)  Now is not the time to analyze an opportunity to death.  Now is the time to seize good ideas and run with them.

Why do speed and creativity matter? Because they give competitive advantage to disruptive businesses and, at the end of the day, Enterprise 2.0 initiatives are great examples of disruptive business ventures. Consider the core challenges of these businesses:

How do you build a business in an unproven market? How do you figure out what customers need when you’re delivering an experience they’ve never seen before? You begin where service and software companies have begun, by conducting fast, cheap experiments that help you understand your customers. You build on what you learn. In short, you prototype.

With ever-increasing competition, innovative businesses are finding that in order to stay competitive their offerings need to constantly evolve. …To understand the next big thing, companies have to engage with customers and react to their needs.

And if you want to succeed at this game, you would do well to pay attention to Ideo’s Axioms for Starting Disruptive New Businesses:

  • Go early, go often — build experimentation into your process
  • Learning by doing — be sure to salvage something from each experiment
  • Inspiration through constraints — don’t waste time wishing for more — after all, necessity is the mother of invention
  • Open to opportunity — don’t assume your way is the only way — see how your customers use your tools in unexpected ways

Thankfully, good Enterprise 2.0 tools are so easy to shape and use that you should be able to pull together a prototype quickly, test it, and then move on without missing a beat.  This may not be how veterans in your IT department like to work, but it’s how disruptive businesses thrive.

So tell me what are you going to do?  Write a 20-page requirements analysis document that may well fail to address the problem, or quickly build a prototype that engages your customer in a creative collaborative problem-solving exercise?

Time’s a wasting.  Get moving.

If you don’t believe me, listen to someone who has made a great deal more money than I have in business — Rupert Murdoch:

The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.

[Hat tip to Marcia Conner for the Murdoch quote.]

[Photo Credit: Stilakes]

3 thoughts on “The E2.0 Challenge: Be Disruptive

  1. Highly relevant observations. It is true that old methods (5 year plans and the like) do persist, but I sometimes think that is more to provide a degree of comfort as much as anything else. The concept of uncertainty and increasing levels of unknowable information, and the futility of long term planning is frightening. But ignoring the facts won't make them go away. I've written a few articles on this theme over the past couple of years over on…The quality management community (my peers, for my sins) are by and large in denial over this. The reason, I strongly suspect, is that, if true, it runs the risk of negating the expertise they feel they have. The community is becoming insular, closing ranks and becoming increasingly isolated and irrelevant as a consequence. Right now King Cnut can just about pick his feet up and maintain that the tide is not coming in. For how long? I neither know nor care. I've bought my popcorn and now look forward to the inevitable entertainment

    1. Shaun –

      You've put your finger on a key problem — moving this quickly can provoke so much uncertainty as to be uncomfortable. The real challenge is to strike a balance that allows lots of creativity and forward momentum without causing so much anxiety that we're paralyzed. This is a true test of leadership.

      – Mary


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