Saturday, 16 June 2007

Enterprise 2.0 - same problem, different platforms

I've been tracking the Enterprise 2.0 debate on the blogosphere. Posts from Dion Hinchcliffe, Enterprise 2.0 as a corporate culture catalyst, Tom Davenport Why Enterprise 2.0 Won't Transform Organizations Andrew McAfee The Impact of Information Technology (IT) on Businesses and their Leaders and John Husband "These Tools Change Corporate Culture" highlight the debate that, as Dion Hinchcliffe says

applying Web 2.0 tools and platforms inside organization may or may not — depending on who you are talking to — improve the way we collaborate, run our businesses, and even potentially tap major new veins of previously unexploitable worker productivity.

Not wishing to dismiss the potential benefits of web 2.0 applications for freeform social collaboration in business, I do think what is being experienced in relation to the use of these tools is heavily impacted by

  • Organisational culture

  • Confidence

  • Trust

These are the same elements that impact on knowledge sharing and collaboration as a whole - and they are all human.

Until we consider the human side of collaborative working online, Enterprise 2.0 won't get off the ground, let alone make an impact on the way our organisations function.

This is the state of play re: Enterprise 2.0 as I see it in my organisation in terms of shared Blogs, Wikis and Tags

It seems to be a no brainer that wikis are perfect for the collaborative creation of documents. The problem is that people aren't keen on changing what someone else has written without asking them/telling them they've done it.

When sending comments on a document by email, the person sending them knows that the person receiving them knows who they are, and can decide to implement the change or not. Just changing something on a wiki appears somewhat disrespectful of the person who has originally written something.

People need time to get used to this way of working. Probably not a good idea to start with a policy document, but start with creating a meeting agenda...

Shared Blogs
Knowledge sharing group blogs are a problem as people may not have the confidence to say "this is what we do" for fear that people will think it's a ridiculous way to work. They can't ask "what do you think to this way of working" and get immediate feedback - they're announcing it to the world/company/team without any understanding of how it will be received.

It seems easier for people to do this face to face. Having a focus or purpose for sharing information where all participants are equal seems to help, for instance, stating up front that contributions will be added to guidance for others in the team/company. However some just don't trust enough or aren't confident enough to share. This has to addressed in terms of developing trust and developing confidence.

A skill in itself if tags are to be meaningful for all. If there is different terminology for the same thing ie expenses form/travel expenses/car mileage claim, then all those tags need to be present for someone to find what they are looking for.

In business this is important - if it's not done well, people will stop using the application they are searching in because they can't find what they are looking for. Librarians get this, it's what they do. Leveraging librarians skillsets - getting them to develop/deliver training in search and retrieval skills seems sensible here (which I know many of them are already doing...).


If we concentrate too much on what Enterprise 2.o can theoretically do for or organisations, we do this to the detriment of acknowledging that the human element is key - people don't work in the way theory suggests.

If workers are to achieve what theory suggests they can achieve through web 2.0 technologies - collective intelligence, greater knowledge, greater awareness, improved performance, then they are going to need help to do this. And time....lots of time.


    Unknown said...

    Helen, much enjoyed your piece this morning:

    Are you fine with our republishing it in Social Computing Magazine? We'll run it under your byline, with your bio and a link back here to your blog of course.

    We try to do this from time to time with blog posts we feel deserve a wider reading.

    Let me know, yes?

    Thanks so much,

    Jeremy G.

    Jeremy Geelan
    Founder & Editor

    Social Computing Magazine

    James Dellow said...

    Isn't diversity the point of tagging and social bookmarking? Have a look at PennTags, to see how a formal library classification scheme can be augmented with informal tagging. You might also like to read about BUPA's experiences with tagging - one of their objectives with tagging is to improve their search results.

    Anne Welsh said...

    Sorry to miss you on Friday, although glad to get away from horrid weather to soft southern climes!!!

    Excellent thinkpiece today. Challenge for information professionals, I think, is letting out skillset be leveraged, as opposed to getting caught up in dogma about taxonomy design.

    Hope to catch up soon.


    Mike Wagner said...

    I am curious what you think about all of this. I expanded a portion of this new picture to incorporate the two facets of Web 2.0 (The social collaborative paradigm shift & the Web 2.0 technology enablers that make this possible), how these once implemented correctly make up the Enterprise Web 2.0 infrastructure, and lastly how with the addition of a Enterprise collaborative paradigm shift, all make up Enterprise 2.0.

    Helen Nicol said...

    Great comments on this piece from James, Anne and Mike.
    Anne – your post exactly reflects what I was thinking – and you couldn’t have put it better “whatever the limitations, tagging is here to stay, and we need to embrace the enthusiasm of our organisations or risk alienating ourselves from the centre of activity”

    The Bupa piece is a great example of where tagging works – thanks for that Mike, and I agree, diversity is the point. I need to look into it more...

    Mike, I think I need to think more about your diagram and explanation before commenting, which I’ll definitely do (wow, I’m turning into a reflector! Maybe what they say about blogging is true :-)

    Anne Welsh said...

    BUPA reference fantastic, James Dellow - really helpful for a piece I've been asked to write.

    I think this is related to the sort of mind-shift you're talking about, Helen, so I'm going to mention it here (it's certainly related to the knowledge transfer barriers you spoke about at the CIG event): I'm wondering if commenting as a format engenders any different sort of knowledge transfer from other forms of communication?


    Helen Nicol said...

    Interesting thought Anne

    "I'm wondering if commenting as a format engenders any different sort of knowledge transfer from other forms of communication? "

    From the info I'm gathering, there's MORE knowledge transfer in comments than posts...

    jonhusband said...

    i, Helen .. thanks for the nod.

    I'm struggling with my memory here, but didn't we exchange some email correspondence a couple of years ago about "wirearchy", KM and this area you now have chosen ?

    Jon Husband

    Helen Nicol said...

    Hi Jon

    No, I don't think we've ever corresponded. I've come to this area very recently. It's facscinating. Thanks for the comment re: trust, confidence, and alignment with organisational vision. Might have to quote you in my dissertation :-)