Linear vs. iterative models of implementation

Morten Hansen did the opening talk at yesterday’s Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference – and I must admit not everything resonated with me.

For one this linear process of 1. get clear about your business case, evaluate opportunities, 2. identify barriers 3. tailor a solution, ie. “get a grip on the levers and pull” is only sounding easy – in real life these mucky Enterprise 2.0 implementations are rarely linear, clearly set out and easily manageable, ie. easy to plan for, to control and to measure.

Mostly I’ve seen iterative and “perpetual beta” initiatives – and that’s not a bad thing to have at all. Ideally it allows for rapid learning from pilots and prototypes, and the gradual emergence of patterns of collaboration that make sense to the organization (be it a team, a department, whatever). In my mind this freeform, emergent and adaptive approach is also instrumental in “instilling both the capabilities and the willingness” in people – after all Enterprise 2.0 is not a classic IT-project that can be rolled out – and it’s complementing the freeform and emergent nature of many of the tools, systems and environments we employ to meet business objectives. A linear model of implementation might be good for selling and appear rational at first sight, but it’s not realistic and – I really hate to say that – merely academic.

Anyway, most of his other thoughts and ideas are vastly agreeable (“bad collaboration is worse than none”; his advice on evading collaboration traps like over-collaboration, the underestimating of costs, hostile cultures, solving the wrong problems et al.; the meme of disclipined collaboration as a whole; his focus on nimble interpersonal networks and the advantages of T-Shaped people) and are of value and interest to Enterprise 2.0 people of all kinds. So, yes, seems I have to get me the whole book after all, for now check out the (a bit sales pushy) video with Morten from BNet below:

It’s the dream of any organization to have all of its departments working together harmoniously for the greater good of all. But is collaboration within a company always a good thing? Author Morten Hansen thinks not and provides a guide on how to avoid common collaboration traps and how to create an environment in which collaboration can thrive.

Looking back at the E20SUMMIT – part 4: selected learnings

Enterprise 2.0 SUMMITOK, now and right before LeWeb starts tomorrow it’s finally time to post the remaining parts of the summary posts on the E20SUMMIT. I mean, LeWeb will no doubt lead to an avalanche of posts and tweets, cleaning up all the drafts is essential preparation.

I’ve been looking back at the Wave use at the SUMMIT, at books and reports, and the social networking aspects of conferences, read people before – and I’ve already said that it’s been a good conference, with a lot of good discussions, and engaged people attending! We developed and discussed some great insights, and I want so say special thanks to all who contributed. Simon Wardley said that Enterprise 2.0 is a direction, not a state – and we’ve explored a bit of the road ahead together.

This is so necessary as Enterprise 2.0 in my view is a question of competitive advantage. And while you (and companies) don’t NEED to change, it’s a good idea to change and adapt proactively. Hence, Enterprise 2.0 thought leadership has to deal with the naysayers and the Crockologists – and this push-back is good because it forces us to think through our positions and lines of argumentation, to look at the subject from different angles and perspectives and to sharpen our understanding of both technologies and implementation approaches.

Of course there’s a place and rationale for Enterprise 2.0, and the many case studies provide ample support. Yet, we shouldn’t stop there and assume that uptake will happen naturally. It won’t – corporate resistance is real, thus finetuning Implementation and Adoption is important. Some learnings include that social it’s a bit of a tricky wording, like Andrew McAfee said during his keynote in San Francisco. Yes, words are important, and if you want to be effective it’s essential to test one’s own and the client’s understanding. Gil Yehuda argued that it’s a good idea to speak with the words your organization understands, ie. use the terminology that best resonates with the audience. And don’t use social or E20 like a mantra or mental short-cut, this will work only inside the E20 echo chamber. So we need to talk about tangible business values before we talk about technology, implementation or organizational change management. Yes, finding a non-IT team to run and foster the initiative is one good starting point. Plus, be not too picky about technologies or “solutions” – the best bet may lie in integrating different tools and let the usage emerge. We don’t want to recreate silos and “isolated effort” issues again, do we?

One of my take-aways has thus been that it’s incredibly hard to choose between a “start small – think big pilot” and a “skip the pilot” approach. Yes, it’s necessary to demonstrate quick successes – but both can work and both are potentiually risky, yet for different accounts. In the first case resistance may argue that E20 only works in this special small group of E20-geeks (are they the right ones to drive enterprise 2.0? Too many IT-people from Mars will alienate the business folks from Venus …), in the second case roll-out steps and ideas for more general adoption throughout the enterprise must be thought and budgeted ahead. In both cases the best idea seems to be really adaptable, and willing to employ various transition strategies and ideas. We’ve repeatedly learned that frontal assault is foolish – eg. fighting against email is alienating (on the contrary it should be used as a transition tool) and should be replaced by a more guerilla like adoption approach.

Yet, there are also a bit more manageable tasks and requirements. This arena comprises playing and integrating with established IT and corporate information systems. One major implementation effort and open task is enterprise search integration, being SOX compliant, and dealing with the various challenges and implications, concerns and sorrows for E2.0 deployments. The “cloud” (be it SaaS, hosted, etc.) in particular is tricky enough – see e.g. the EU Data Protection Directive and the questions of privacy it poses (yes, European perspective here, we’ve had lots of good discussions about the different challenges with E20 in Europe versus the US.)

[…] If you want to put data in the cloud that includes personal information of EU residents (and that might be something as simple as an email address or employment information), and the data will flow from the EU to almost anywhere in the world, you cannot simple throw the data in the cloud and hope for the best.

Another learning focusses on the discussions of measuring collaborative performance – the scheme of how to measure effectiveness vs. efficiency presented by Kjetil Kristensen was insightful and stressed that effectiveness of collaboration efforts is often overlooked and neglected. Yes, the value of collaboration is not collaboration itself (and sometimes you don’t people to collaborate at all, think Chinese Walls in investment banking etc.) – the values of communication and collaboration across hierachical levels and “official tasks” are various: Thinking together, not thinking alike should be the goal, while buidling up mutual understanding. Tricky, huh?

And here’s one link to the adoption and implementation issues from above: As knowledge and understanding of one companies’ vision of E20 is created in the conversation it’s essential to engage many stakeholders in the conversation, if only to connect the efforts with the actual business needs of the people. Gathering diverse perspectives and having meaningful conversations on the opportunities ahead ensures shared vision.

OK, now I’m off to Paris, it’s been kinda hard

Oliver Marks and Andrew McAfee at the Enterprise 2.0 conference

During the last two days I have spent the better part of my nights listening in to and participating in the discussion at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco. This wasn’t only Twitter, quite some documenting took place in Google Wave too (that’s global collaboration, me and Dan editing the same blip while being literally thousands of miles away from each other, for #nirvana we only need to sort out the time zone problems). Some notes and thoughts are still forming and may end up in a frogpond- or enterprise2open-blog post soon …

Until then this video is a good thing to watch, Oliver Marks (who happens also to be one of the headliners at next week’s E20SUMMIT) talking with Andrew McAfee (new book here: Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges) about the conference, it’s target audience and about the current state of the discussion around Enterprise 2.0.

We discuss the strengths of the event – the evangelists and middle ranking employee success stories – but also note the need for impressing on senior ‘C’ suite decision makers in organizations the business value of these modern ideas and associated technologies.

There are at least two interesting things to notice in there, one: the discussion is evolving quickly and the experts have since long stopped to mull over questions of definition, why even of questioning RoI. The real topics are now the necessary steps we all should take to get the C-Suite from “being interested” to becoming active sponsors – and how to explain the tangible benefits of collaborative performance. Systems are ready and able, experienced consultants ditto and may work for the satisfaction of being the change you want to see money. Gentlemen, please let your projects start.

The other thing is the obervation I absolutely second that middle-level people aren’t the roadblock, in fact they are the necessary ingredient of Enterprise 2.0 success and make out most of the participants both at the Enterprise 2.0 conference and the upcoming E20SUMMIT. This isn’t by chance or “because they were told to go” but because they feel the need and the willingness to change with and by Enterprise 2.0.

Andrew McAfee Talks About Enterprise 2.0 At Harvard’s Berkman Center

Found via wowfeed.com aka George Dearing

Great discussion (and hilarious at times, too – just see how David Weinberger explains the rationale behind the IRC back-channel and see Doc Searls fight and conquer a sandwich as a bonus).

But what happens in this relaxed athmosphere is nothing less than a crash course in the motives and context of Enterprise 2.0 – and one can learn a lot from Andrew’s approach (eg. how he goes about to explain the benefits of E 2.0 to regular executives, think strong, weak and potential ties / Mark Granovetter; how business opportunity management can profit from “supported and facilitated” serendipidity; …).

Posted via web from frogpond’s posterous

Discussing measures and concepts for “collaborative performance”

Björn is asking what the Return on Investment of Collaboration is and writes up some neat (and programmatic) questions to systematize the discussion:

1. How to conceptionalize, realize and gain collaborative performance?
→ discussing the value chain of an collaborative enterprise, the economics of sharing, processes of open innovation
2. What are the main drivers for collaborative advantage and efficiency?
→ discussing communications, processes, infrastructure as well as (self-)management
3. What are the key values of a collaborative culture?
→ discussing the key characteristics as open, transparent and decentralized as well as others – and how to realize the cultural change in a multinational environment as we have in a lot of European companies
4. How to introduce and adopt social and collaborative approaches within the company?
→ discussing the steps of adoption especially in the context of multinational companies

Like him I notice that Enterprise 2.0 discussions fall back to the topic of ROI quite often, seen this many times before and again at the Cologne Enterprise 2.0 FORUM. So trying and exploring the subline of the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT (“Improving Collaborative Performance”) with these questions is a good idea. I won’t dive into all of them now, let’s look at number one first and take a first stab at why it’s collaborative performance we’re after.

To me, thinking about the economic measures and dimensions of Enterprise 2.0 is important. That said, I can also say that thinking about ROIs isn’t important for the reasons one might assume at first: It’s much like with “strategic planning” where the actual plans you derive are much less important than the process of planning (and the mental exercises you get when doing it up-front …) in itself. Two points to discuss:

  • Defining and measuring an ROI of collaboration is both easy and hard – getting and measuring numbers is as easy as getting relevant numbers is hard.
  • Thinking about ways to conceptualize ROI holds benefit, more than having an actual ROI definition.

twitter-martin-koser-discussing-about-the-roi-o-_1235139188217

What does this mean? Let’s start with the definition part, Return on Investment that’s the thing. Nice and easy way to calculate a range of possible alternatives and help in deciding on what to do, huh? But that definition is utterly flawed when we’re dealing with social software in the Enterprise. What does I stand for? Investment, i.e. basically all the Euros and Dollars we’re pouring into our Enterprise 2.0 endeavours. But wait, we’re much smarter than this, aren’t we? After all, we know or sense that buying and deploying IT systems (some of those are even open-source to make things even more complicated) is the easy part, and the bigger part is the soft stuff, like e.g. enabling and supporting collaboration. So we may start to add the hours of the people involved in our projects, and continue to count in all the costs that we’re guessing (when they write blog posts or edit wiki pages they don’t do any actual work, huh?), all the time spent collaborating … Yikes, it’s almost as hard to measure the “investment” as measuring the “returns” of social software in the Enterprise is. This is flawed too as this social stuff can exhibit nice benefits in areas that don’t seem to be related, that are too far in the future or that rely on extrapolations of things – things that are moving way too fast. There’s something to learn from neighbouring areas: Measuring improved knowledge retention isn’t easy – the KM guys are pondering this space for more than 20 years – thus, measuring the effects of a more collaborative corporate environment and a knowledge sharing culture that we may get via Enterprise 2.0 can’t be much easier …

Yet there are very good reasons for discussing measures and concepts for “collaborative performance” – we need to do some planning to know what to do, to get a sense for the environment we’re in and where we stand, what to do to progress and what actions to take when we sense that we’re drifting off from our course. And we need to define and point out our successes, if only to bootstrap and fund the little experiments we started off with (did I mention that calculating ROIs is hard when the I is small? Little lightweight pilot projects make it quite hard to calculate reliable numbers …).

Now, in the past I sometimes argued along the lines of “Please forget about ROI calculations, ROC is much more important”, arguing that the “Return on Change” is what we should look for in Enterprise 2.0 (One word as a focal point for change – Collaboration and Cultural change and developing collaboration capabilities). But it doesn’t take you far in the corporate boardroom (nor do other measures like the RoNI – Risk of not Investing that is plagued by overuse – how often have CEOs heard that “now’s the time to act or else”-thing? Business decision makers are wiser than that).

Whatever, the leading question “How to conceptionalize, realize and gain collaborative performance?” is giving us lots of things to discuss. We’ve not even scratched the surface (yes, it may lead us to discuss the value chain of an collaborative enterprise, the economics of sharing, processes of open innovation, …), use cases and “arenas for social software in the enterprise” and different takes on systematization. In the end it’s necessary to do the deep thinking to be prepared when trying to convince people about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0.

(Now onto posting Euan Semple’s expert profile over at the Enterprise2Open blog, later on I will dig into the new McKinsey Quarterly article “Six ways to make Web 2.0 work”. Both deserve a long post too.)

Rückblick auf den ECM-Summit – Keynotes

Zweiter Teil meines Rückblicks auf den ECM-Summit – speziell auf die Keynotes von Ulrich Kampffmeyer und Lee Bryant. Dirk Röhrborn von Communardo hat diese bereits sehr ausführlich dokumentiert – vielen Dank dafür, ich weiß wieviel Mühe das Livebloggen macht, selbst habe ich nur vereinzelte Tweets absetzen können (ok, es waren rund 160 über die zwei Konferenztage …):

Ulrich Kampffmeyers Keynote über “Human Impact” fokussierte auf die Wechselwirkungen zwischen Mensch und (Software-)Technologien (im Unternehmen). Aufbauend auf Thesen wie “Der Mensch ist das Maß aller Dinge” wurde ein Bogen zu Herausforderungen an Wissensarbeiter (Information Overload, anyone?) und mangelhafter Usability von Mensch-Maschine-Schnittstellen gezogen. Das skizzierte  Szenario eines Generationenkonflikts (digital natives vs. digital immigrants) sehe ich nicht ganz so – ebensowenig teile ich den (kultur)pessimistischen Ausblick. Klar, man kann diese Sicht teilen, man muss es aber nicht. Ich sehe mehr die positiven Seiten bzw. die Möglichkeiten diese zu stärken. Ganz im Sinne von Charles Leadbeaters “We-Think” – das Web kann gut sein für Freiheit und Demokratie, dies ist aber kein Automatismus, sondern muss immer wieder neu erarbeitet und bewahrt werden.

Lee Bryant hat in seiner Keynote einen ähnlichen Grundtenor eingeschlagen – auch er sieht mehr die möglichen Wandelpotenziale von Social Software in Unternehmen. Dies ist auch dringend notwendig wenn “modern corporations bear the imprint of old organisational models and metaphors”. Während die veränderten Anforderungen und Umsysteme “Enterprises 2.0” benötigen haben wir “1990’s software and tools, coupled with 1930’s management practices”. Klassisches Enterprise Content Management (Create, Store, Manage, Distribute) ist so auch nicht ausreichend – es ist zu zentralistisch, zu unflexibel und motiviert nicht ausreichend zur Beteiligung. Wie nun vorgehen? Lee schlägt folgende Herangehensweise an Enterprise 2.0 vor:

1. try to harness flow & go with the flow as well, like eg. with leveraging internal and external feeds

2. leverage bookmarks and tags – building the base for

3. blogs and social networks (“social objects” that are shared within networks …)

4. group collaboration – intimate groups/teams organise knowledge in wikis and group systems

5. and last layer of the “knowledge pyramid” – personal tools, organise my stuff by tags, arrange in a portal, manage networks and feeds

“Feeds, flow and fluid navigation”, das erinnert auch an Stowes Vortrag bei der Web 2.0 Expo (“Better Social Plumbing for the Social Web“). Ja, dadurch können sich auch emergente Strukturen ausbilden, im Flow gewissermaßen – aber es braucht Freiheit und Ergebnisoffenheit. Plan- und Berechenbarkeit steht dem meist im Weg …

Eine interessante Frage kam dann noch aus dem Publikum – wie Mitarbeiter zur Beteiligung und Partizipation motiviert werden können? Lees Antwort war recht pragmatisch “give people the tools so that they can do their jobs better”.

Ja, das sehe ich ähnlich, ich würde noch ein “and step out of the way” hinzufügen, aber im Kern trifft das ins Ziel: Es geht darum mit Enterprise Social Software das “day to day corporate life” zu verbessern. In diesem Zusammenhang möchte ich gerne noch auf die Slides von Lees Talk bei der Reboot10 verweisen:

[…] about how [to] codify new freedoms within organisational structures and how we can create a win-win by helping humanise enterprises using social tools.

BarCamp Berlin 3: Enterprise 2.0 und Unternehmenskultur

BarCamp Berlin 3

Ja, ich bin spät dran meine Unterlagen für die Unternehmenskultur-Sessions am BarCamp Berlin bereitzustellen, aber nun ja, ich hatte zwischendrin ein paar andere Aufgaben

Hier sind nun die kombinierten Folien – d.h. die Fortsetzungssession am Sonntag ist auch enthalten (klick auf das Bild verlinkt zur S5-Präsentationim Wiki):