Emergence in Enterprise 2.0 implementation

More on emergence as a principle behind enterprise 2.0 concepts (add this to my post here) in Miguel Cornejo Castro’s take on the McAfee/Davenport debate (Davenport’s pov):

Integrating this “emergence” paradigm into the management methods of modern business is darn hard. It will take time, it will take experiments and failures. It’s not just a technology awareness issue (as the previous implementations of e-business and other disruptive technologies), it’s a cultural issue. A business-practices issue.

Web 2.0 is just another enabler for a cultural change that was already under way with Web 1.0. Witness forums, online collaboration tools (not invented with tags et al), and the emergence of the idea of the knowledge worker. Witness the whole latest generation of Knowledge Management as a discipline.

Now I wouldn’t define emergence as a paradigm, but rather as a principle (building upon an underlying paradigm of “complex adaptive organizational systems” and in line with principles like connectivity and adaptivity). Hence, it becomes clear that we must not focus solely on culture – yes, organizational culture is playing an important part, but it is neither the only adoption and implementation lever nor the only thing to mind when bringing web 2.0 to the enterprise.

Value of Enterprise 2.0 … debated

So I finally am ready to collect some of the loose ends of the McAfee/Davenport debate and comment:

My main point is, that it’s always a good idea to debate with the contrarians/heretics/opponents especially when they’re polite, well-spoken and -educated. And Tom Davenport surely is, so his arguing against the flow is a good thing: it forces us enterprise 2.0 proponents to think hard why we’re so into this stuff, and it makes sure that we think more about adoption issues and implementation paths than about (yes, cool) technologies.

And Davenport made this really good point that collaboration doesn’t depend that much on technologies, when already existing technology’s capabilities may suffice.

Still, I am now very sure that we’re not in for a fad or an extension of what’s gone before. Social software technologies are allowing for connectivity, adaptivity and emergence – and these are principles that govern these complex organizational systems we call corporations. And these are the ways they change how we collaborate, i.e. through changing context and information supply, through enabling flexibility and agility, through giving room for self-organization …

Moreover, enhancing competitiveness and productivity of knowledge workers is long overdue. Here, social networks are only one part of the equation: there are also other aspects of Enterprise 2.0 like e.g. mashups and “as a service” applications that go together nicely with other enterprise software trends like SOA. In fact, I think that asking whether Enterprise 2.0 is really something new is pointless, some will always highlight its revolutionary parts, others will point out its ancestors in CSCW and enterprise software and the traditional set of technologies for collaboration, interaction, and information sharing.

Anyway, Enterprise 2.0 is definitely going to impact corporate culture, (knowledge worker) productivity and startegic competitiveness.

Assemble Enterprise 2.0 with Open-Source

John Eckman points to an Optaros whitepaper on Enterprise 2.0 technologies, specifically open-source tools.

I like their take and view of technologies for supporting knowledge management 2.0 and their criticism of “One True Architecture”-thinking. No wonder, as I too argue that adaptivity, connectivity and emergence are essential ingredients to knowledge management concepts …

Here’s the Executive Summary:

Enterprise 2.0 promises a new approach to creating, managing, and consuming knowledge within the enterprise, allowing patterns and value to emerge out of relatively freeform, experimental, unrestricted exchanges. Unlike knowledge management systems of the nineties, which locked users into strict taxonomies, enforced rigid workflows, and reflected hierarchical management relationships, emerging social computing systems rely on lightweight, adaptable frameworks designed to facilitate knowledge creation across traditional boundaries, enable rapid change, and foster contributions from throughout the management hierarchy.

This new knowledge management paradigm needs to be supported by new technologies and approaches. It isn’t, however, just a matter of selecting the right set of applications or the right platform; there is no “One True Architecture” which includes all the features and functions users could ever desire.

Supporting Business Development with a Wiki

Via Stewart Mader comes notice of an article in FastCompany on how Disney uses wikis in internal business model innovation projects (well, not all WDI employees seem so content as the folks of the digital-media department, but that’s another story …).

This is an excellent description of how a wiki can be the information, collaboration, and social hub of a group. Creating a directory of staff profiles helps people hone their wiki editing skills, tell others about themselves, and become more deeply connected to the rest of the community on the wiki. The flexibility of the wiki shows in the creation of that “Cool Stuff We’ve Done This Year” section, because people can start by informally listing things they’ve done, then go back and add descriptions, links, images, video, etc. and pretty soon they’ve built a better, more accurate, and naturally built report on what they’ve accomplished.

I like the use case and rationale of the people at Disney, this is obviously a good little case study. I wouldn’t place too much focus on the “maverick spirit aspects” anyway. Adaptivity and room for “emergent uses” are attractive enough – especially for the support of (business model) innovators.

Werte statt Macht

Sören Stamer, CEO von Coremedia (hier das Video seines Next07-Vortrags), im Interview mit dem Fischmarkt-Team, u.a. zu zeitgemäßer Unternehmensorganisation aber auch den Implementierungserfahrungen bei Coremedia, u.a.:

Was bedeutet die Post-Web-2.0-Ära für klassische Unternehmen?

Der Hauptpunkt ist der, dass der Kampf gegen den Paradigmenwechsel nicht zu gewinnen sein wird. Jedes Unternehmen kann zwar versuchen, dagegen zu arbeiten, aber meiner Meinung nach wird man mit dieser Strategie nicht erfolgreich sein können. Traditionelle Modelle mit starren Hierarchien und starker Machtorientierung werden leiden und möglicherweise untergehen, weil die Welt um sie herum sich grundlegend ändert.
Mit dem Medium Internet hat sich eine kulturelle Revolution in Gang gesetzt: Selbstorganisation statt starre Hierarchien. Kompetenzen statt Kontrolle. Kooperation statt Kampf. Werte statt Macht. Technologie hat somit in erster Linie einen kulturellen Effekt.

Web 2.0 changing decision making processes within organizations

More on Chambers keynote by the people of Avenue A | Razorfish, pointing out his argument that decision making processes (at least at Cisco …) were changed and accelerated:

And when talking about web 2.0 [Chambers] specifically drew attention to social networking as changing decision making processes within organizations.
[…] Chambers emphasized that social networks are changing businesses making them less hierarchical and more network oriented.

Well, yes, strengthening (and leveraging) social networks via social software may facilitate this, decision making can be accelerated (and be more distributed, democratized, deconstructed, diversified, …).

In fact, the main change effect is not acceleration (but the change effects in brackets …).

Alas, be warned, your results may vary, social networking in the enterprise is not “easy”. One reason is that this is not a technology problem (with some kind of tech answer), but a people problem. Supplementing organizational hierarchies and “command and control” decision structures with free-form collaboration and teamwork approaches needs some serious thinking before “kicking-off these projects”, taking into account that this calls for broad implementation approaches, lead and energized by skillful managers, and more …

Then (and only when …) we employ freeform social software and enterprise 2.0 concepts we can ease implementation, like when we leverage bottom-up mechanisms that are already in place, and allow for the emergence of usage and networking patterns that reflect and support the actual informal networks that exist in the organization anyway.

Social software may enter the corporate world quite naturally in the end …