Enterprise 2.0, People Dimension


One would think this to be a strange title for a post. After all, e 2.0 is all about people. About putting people at the centr of things. But somewhere this seems to be missing over some time, with more focus coming to the technology. True, technology is key to e 2.0, but we need to look at technology as a key enabler towards moving to an e 2.0 way of working. Something i had said at KM India, that e 2.0 needs to be about people + technology, people enabled by technology, kind of a technology layer underlying the people aspect of the organization.

Why i am writing about this is because i am seeing, over the last few days, more being written about the people aspect of e 2.0, especially at fastforward blog. Joe McKendrick has written an interesting one about whether an organization is ready for e 2.0. This is a really helpful post which can help to look at whether and to what extent your organization is ready for e 2.0. What this also describes is that some organizations may not be ready for e 2.0 even though this is the latest buzzword, and by keeping an eye on the indicators which Joe describes some of the failures of e 2.0 implementations (actually i dont think we can look at them as implementations … the term is too closely linked with software, but nevertheless …) can be actually taken to a point where the organization can get to see the benefits coming from them.

What is important to see is that e 2.0 is about a culture where people are encouraged to talk back, where discussion, maybe even dissent (constructive, of course) is encouraged, because the organization understands that it is from this discussion that new ideas emerge, and that this discussion, the conversation within the organization which actually greases the flow of knowledge, the creation of ideas, new ways of doing things, new ways of creating value. This is also probably a function of the maturity of the organization, and the managers, which determines whether managers are open to any kind of feedback, whether positive or negative.

As i have written before, the key to e 2.0 is that decision-making, and the responsibility that goes along with it is distributed. Here i have also looked at why this also doesnt mean a laissez faire way of working. But one of the prerequisites for this is that there is a free flowing conversation within the organization across the hierarchy, or rather, independant of hierarchy, and based purely on the value created by the conversation, because it is only then that work, decision-making and authority can be really distributed.

As we can see, this is clearly dependant on the culture of the organization. An organization which lets the conversation flow and is not fazed by feedback or ideas which run contrary to the established practices is naturally more aligned with the basic concept of e 2.0, and it is in this scenario where movement to an e 2.0 way of doing things is going to work. But does this mean you need to spend the next 20 years getting the culture right? I dont think so. I think there are parts in any organization which are more receptive to this way of working, and it would be beneficial to look at how the idea of e 2.0 can be taken forward in these parts of the organization, rather than looking at the organization as a whole. Once this can be done, we can see the results from this coming out, and look at how these can be used to transform other parts of the organization, maybe those logically linked with the one we have worked with.

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