Risk, control and trust in Enterprise 2.0

Risk, control and trust. Add any of these words to a business proposal, as issues to be addressed, and you can guarantee someone is going to be nervous.

Dion Hinchcliffe recently highlighted how these three issues were starting to push their way through the excitement of Enterprise 2.0 to become potential show-stoppers. For many organisations they may be already.

He was responding to blogs by Andrew McAfee and Dennis Howlett on what, precisely, Enterprise 2.0 was trying to solve.

In the context of products, customers, services, processes and governance, those three elements – risk, control and trust – are fundamental to a successful business.

And Enterprise 2.0 proponents should also keep in mind that for certain organisations, the penalties for failing to manage risk, to control what needs to be controlled or for breaching trust are significant and substantial. For some organisations operating in a highly regulated environment, brand or reputation damage from a You Tube video or Facebook group may be just the start of the problem.

Risk, control and trust in business aren’t bad. In fact, when you think about it, they are assumptions that underpin a customer’s willingness to engage with you. speed test website Aren’t they?

As McAfee observes, it is unhelpful and wrong to ‘… portray hierarchy, standardization, and management as enemies of innovation, creativity, and value creation.’ I’ve worked in organisations where a finely tuned balance of all of those elements made for a rich, rewarding and successful business.

As I see it, the challenge for Enterprise 2.0 is that the way it achieves things – the process, the interaction, the players and the speed – is so different to an organisation’s current risk/control/trust paradigm. And that happens at both the corporate level, where Ent 2.0 slams up against process, sign-off, hierarchy, and regulation, and at the personal level, where workers function every day using control, knowledge, and well trodden paths of interaction.

There are now numerous examples of Enterprise 2.0 tools facilitating the core business of an organisation, and McAfee lists many in his post.

So the objectives, and rationale, and expected outcomes must be clearly defined, at both corporate and personal levels. And all the enablers (people, process, culture, organisational) must be understood and either in place, or able to be dealt with. Which probably means that Enterprise 2.0 initiatives in many organisations should start as discrete, self contained, well thought out pieces of work. The degree of change required to fully leverage them is broad, and touches on so many important aspects of an organisation. Given the ROI of Enterprise 2.0 could be argued as in its infancy, for many organisations the risks will continue to outweigh the benefits.

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