Posts Tagged ‘enterprise 2.0’

How do you ‘sell’ social tools to the enterprise?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on January 18th, 2010 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

This blog post from Cecil Dijoux at Social Computing Journal  sets out some guidance on how to introduce the concept of social media tools into an organisation (in the Enterprise 2.0 sense). It references another post by Bertrand Duperrin that cautions against using 7 specific web 2.0 words with business managers.  Both authors posit that the words ‘conversation’ and ‘social’, among others, will very likely scare managers, creating visions of endless chats and online surfing.

Our suggestion: Use business language.

While we often lament the nature and extent of meetings, meetings are essentially conversations. But they’re not defined that way, because whether they are well run or not their primary purpose is to provide an outcome. We remarked in a previous post that you wouldn’t find ‘conversations’ as a line item on a project plan, even when they might be a necessary part of changing the culture or the context.  That’s because business works hard to define activities, and a conversation is an activity in search of an outcome.

So if I was still in line management and someone tried to sell me a tool on the basis that it would improve, encourage or facilitate internal conversations, I’d give them a look too.

We organise ourselves into social groups defined by interest, interaction and function. Business relies on people working together, talking together and making decisions together. We are social beings, and so at the purest level the word ‘social’ in ‘social media’ shouldn’t put us off.  But I suspect also that the word itself might have inhibited the leap into the enterprise. We use it colloquially (as in ‘my social life’), and it is seen in a highly visible form online in what are primarily friendship and connection sites like Facebook.

So facilitating or improving conversations is not the business outcome. That’s part of the benefit, but what’s needed is establishing exactly what conversations will do for the business. Will they facilitate decision making and so speed up time to market? Will they strengthen the corporate culture by communicating and embedding core values? Will they aid compliance through greater knowledge, gained from the ability to discuss and question? Will they help a business manage risk through improved transparency?

Put simply:

Collaboration tools → One output is conversation → Outcome=?

It seems to me that there is a whole lexicon not yet created around web 2.0 tools in the enterprise. We still talk in terms of social media marketing outcomes, externally to customers, when within the organisation it is about decision making, information management and culture.

The use of web 2.0 tools is a more complex transaction within an organisation. Perhaps this is because the relationships are more complex or multi-faceted. The tools themselves are so flexible that one size does often fit all, and are all the more meaningless because of it. You need to articulate the business case for business people, and to do that you need to speak business language and understand its outcomes.

Is change or transformation viewed as a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on December 7th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – 2 Comments

I subscribe to the Gurteen Knowledge-Letter, which never disappoints.  Issue 113 – November quoted from and linked to an online booklet from David Block .

 This quote caught my attention:

We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.

David Gurteen raised it in context of the Knowledge Cafes he runs, where people often expect ‘tangible outcomes’ and don’t appear to see the value in conversation.

The quote relates to what the author identifies as a deeply held belief that the way we make a difference is by defining problems and then finding solutions.  The overall aim of the article is to define the toolsets communities can use to bring a vision into being. It’s about how to create that future for communities.

It rings true for the enterprise as well. So many aspects of corporate operation have a strong problem solving function and culture. But we can’t define change or transformation in the same terms we use to define a problem, and then recommend actions to solve it. If the underlying context hasn’t changed, then nothing much really changes.

‘Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation.’ The author notes that to achieve a change in context, a rethinking of roles, accountability, partnering, and commitment is required. When you think about successful change programs, they have genuinely changed the context within which people operate, think, connect and converse.

My strongest experience of this is action was when I led a strategy program for a major organisation. It involved core services and touched every single aspect of the business. It required a new way of thinking and viewing the services. And it required revisiting roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. Some of those conversations were challenging. But we started shifting the context from the minute the project started, with the people who would play a key role in the future. We did this a number of ways, both formal and informal, and a key characteristic of both was conversation. We designed a new future that became much more than just diagrams and powerpoint presentations.

There are plenty of intangible benefits to be had from conversations within business, but they are rarely measured and often unacknowledged.  It’s easy to gloss over the conversations a team might have to clarify an issue, to come up with a new product or service, to offer a truly innovative approach to a business service. When business seeks to formalise activities so that everyone is clear about what is needed, it’s not surprising that project plans rarely contain activities under the following headings: conversation, syndication, socialisation. You might tell me they are part of a communication and engagement plan, but the primary approach of many communication and engagement plans remains broadcast.

So many of our day to day business tools are still firmly anchored in the desktop suite, which has as its primary purpose packaging information and interaction neatly up into clear buckets and clear pathways. So it’s not surprising that unstructured web 2.0 tools come with quite a barrier to adoption. When it can be hard to identify tangible, financial outcomes from say, an active internal blogging community, web 2.0 struggles at the hurdle.

But perhaps, in an organisation that wants to learn how to value conversation, they provide a very real opportunity to start shifting the context. The strength in a number of the enterprise 2.0 toolsets is in the fact that they sit outside traditional corporate hierarchies. It’s all about the content and the conversation.

Risk, control and trust in Enterprise 2.0

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on September 28th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

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.

KM Australia 2009 conference summary

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on September 9th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

If you didn’t manage to get to the KM Australia conference, held in Sydney in August, Nicky Hayward-Wright has written a great review, complete with links, of the sessions. You’ll find it on the NSW KM Forum site.

Is Enterprise 2.0 just too risky?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on August 27th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

I met with the members of the Knowledge Management Roundtable in NSW yesterday to discuss Enterprise 2.0 and the opportunities for business it provides within the firewall.

Marie O’Brien is the very capable and entertaining facilitator, and the sessions I attended were all strongly practical.

A couple of the questions asked reflected the very real issues that organisations are wrestling with, either in just opening up social sites to employees at work, or in working out how to leverage social networking in an organisation. I thought they were worthy of noting:

If you provide access to social sites, will people spend their time surfing?

This issue isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Will you see productivity plunge if you allow employees access? I first heard this concern over 10 years ago, when as part of a global intranet roll-out we provided internet access to all our employees. And the talented director I reported to, when asked by me for an official response, commented ‘that is entirely an issue for management’. The mechanisms for time-wasting have always been available, some just more or less visible than others.

Blanket bans may well be counter-productive. The benefit ‘back then’ was that we wanted web savvy employees, people who understood the internet and how it might assist business. I would like to suggest that is still applicable. How can you come to grips with social networking, either within your organisation or for partners and customers, if you don’t understand it yourselves?

The interesting thing about internet access all those years ago was that we saw a spike on the first day we rolled it out to each group of employees. By about day 3 access levels were back down to acceptable levels.

If you provide blogs within an organisation, how do you select the topics and the contributors?

This made me stop and think. On my last project we certainly seeded our first blogs. By that I don’t mean we chucked the technology at a likely suspect and hoped for the best. We worked out a cross-section of influencers, from the leaders to the workers, talked to them about why a conversation might be a good idea, and got the ball rolling. But within a very short time the requests started flowing. And the interesting thing was that everyone who contacted me wanted to start talking. They had people they wanted to connect with, and stories or business information they wanted to share. The technology came second. Sure the technology was a bit interesting and fun, and a whole lot more flexible than an email newsletter, and it might have even inspired a few people to ramp up the communication again, but people wanted to share.

So a mix of understanding the conversations, understanding the corporate dynamic so we knew which conversations carried what impact, some marketing 101, and then visibility and word of mouth, meant that we didn’t have to drag people to the altar!

Enterprise 2.0 for knowledge management?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate, Practice Areas on August 10th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – 2 Comments

I presented at the ARK Group’s KM Australia conference in Sydney last week. The title of my presentation was ‘Enterprise 2.0 – Breathing new life into KM’. A bold claim? Probably, but the whole point is to initiate some debate.

I firmly believe all the tools, connectivity and behaviours associated with what we call Web 2.0, or Enterprise 2.0 within an organization, have the power to turn many of our knowledge or information management efforts on their head. For the better. Over the next few posts I’ll elaborate on some of the thinking behind the presentation.

So my presentation followed the journey I took with Annalie Killian and the excellent folks at AMP, where we implemented a collaboration platform, which included wikis, blogs and the like, to address knowledge management challenges.

Without playing the generation card too heavily, the very real risk for many organizations today is the opportunity they might be losing. We have new generations walking in the corporate door with all the skill and will to connect. They do it every day – it is part of their lives. And yet we often hand over little more than an email account and access to a share drive. Some organizations don’t allow access to Facebook and other social networking sites. In short, we switch them off.

And when knowledge management often struggles with switching people on, it seems like a wasted opportunity.

A real strength of enterprise 2.0 tools is how they connect people. They link people to other people and to information and knowledge assets, in a less formal, but no less effective way than more structured knowledge tools. Why wouldn’t you leverage behaviours that are likely to bring business benefit?

The ‘informal’ web

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on June 26th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

So much of the strength of web 2.0 tools is the ability to connect and communicate that they provide to the individual. That’s right, the individual. Leiseberkhelpthi So is that a natural conflict right there, with many of the objectives and policies in most organisations?

LunchBytes1 Web 2.0 June09_059

When you look at how most intranets (and one could argue, organisations) are structured and managed, there’s a common theme.


Sure, there are risk and compliance elements to that formality, but much of it stems from the best of intentions to manage messages carefully and well. Organisations like to minimise chaos and that extends to information and communication.

But the fundamental element of a social network is the individual. Being an individual. Funnily enough, that’s really how we work as well, but it seems that once it’s captured, written down, shared, stored and so on, everyone gets nervous.

So in an organisation with a fairly conservative culture, there’s your first challenge in proposing any social networking tools.

There are ways to carve out space to raise the level of comfort about what the tools will really do, and demonstrate how to manage the risk. But it’s not really about the tools. Not to start with at least.

Why would employees want web 2.0 tools?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on June 26th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

Adopting the Microsoft ‘eat your own dogfood’ motto, I presented to our Frame partners on Web 2.0 yesterday. The focus of the presentation was whether business really needs to take notice of Web 2.0 – or Enterprise 2.0 – tools. Raftimucebe . Does the hype and activity on the internet translate to corporate environments?

One of the key questions that came after the session was ‘is this just one more thing we need to do?’

I’ve been in line management roles, working long hours and wondering how I’m going to get it all done. So pronouncements from 60,000 feet about a new way of working never excited me. And if they lacked real detail, more often than not they were simply irritating.

Understanding this quite common perspective was fundamental to delivering a knowledge management solution to a client. We communicated an important guiding principle: knowledge management activities had to be part of the way we worked. Not additional. Not an afterthought. Embedded. Replacing some other way of working, to real advantage for the individual.

Of course this means that your customer base is highly segmented. No one size fits all solution. And that’s where many of the web 2.0 tools assist – they are hugely flexible in how they can be used.

So a customer service team might agree to move most of their updates, previously emailed out to team members – onto a blog.

A team leader might blog answers to any questions they are asked. There are several benefits to this: they are stopping the email trail (which would probably only grow and pull in more people), they are capturing valuable knowledge about an issue – their response – and putting it somewhere searchable, they are providing the answer to a wider audience than just the person who asked the question.

Our answer to our audience then was no, adopting web 2.0 tools was not one more thing they needed to do. The tools open up new ways of working, but care and effort needs to be expended on designing those new ways.

Collaboration, content management and Enterprise 2.0 in the public sector

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on June 11th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

Interesting article from Steve Hodgkinson in MIS Australia this month, on what’s new in public sector IT.

He documents the ‘storms’ he sees coming in public sector IT.  There are eight in total, but it is interesting to see two in particular: Collaboration and content management, and Enterprise 2.0.

The first is about providing better, more integrated tools to ‘knowledge workers’ for creating, storing and sharing information.

This is one of the key issues that knowledge management has struggled with. When a great deal of effort is spent working out what should be captured, who should be connected and what should be shared, the result is often a detailed business case proposing a highly structured KM solution. This needs substantial time and effort to engage people in using it and drive the right behaviours.

We talk about breaking down organisational silos for our employees, and yet we give them tools such as KM repositories, shared drives and email that place all their information into, guess what, silos!

The second is the opportunity of Enterprise 2.0. Enterprise 2.0 tools are very strong for a number of reasons – they are democratic, have a low or non-existent barrier to entry, are quick for the user to engage with and contribute to, can be economical to deploy even within the firewall, are very agile (can grow and change quickly) and are easily embedded in the users’ desktop, ie one click away on the corporate web.

Properly deployed and supported, they democratise information, making more of it more widely available. So they can play a key role in connecting people up and down hierarchies and across organisational teams.

So for any organisation looking to cut costs, they provide great potential. But as we’ve cautioned before, deploying them is not primarily a technology project.

Understand the conversation first

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on May 28th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

For any organisation considering an Enterprise 2.0 implementation, we recommend you first understand the conversation that is going on.

Years ago, in another time and place, I had a meeting with a marketing director. With a growing sense of disbelief he went around the table of product managers, asking them for a particular input. When the result was one blank stare after another, he dismissed the team, and then turned to me, as the most senior manager. domain list . He was simply furious that his instructions had not been followed.

Now we weren’t all actively trying to sabotage him. We were an enthusiastic and capable team, quite innovative and had been successful in meeting our marketing targets. I tried to explain to him that no one had heard, or understood, his requirement. When not one person had heard the message and delivered to it, something had to be wrong with the original communication.

It took some skill to calm him down. Not only had he not been given the input he wanted, but I was querying his communication style.

Communication starts with people. New and fabulous tools aren’t going to make us all better communicators. Petesorratep I can tweet myself silly but every 140 characters I post may still be unclear, uninteresting, unamusing, self-absorbed, and worse still, boring.

So before you roll any Enterprise 2.0 tools over the top of your organisation, make sure you understand what the communication lines are, who they are between, who they should be between, and what conversations are occurring.