Monday, April 26, 2010

Don't expect too much from Enterprise 2.0

(Subtext: Culture comes first, technology second)

Be sure not to expect too much from Enterprise 2.0. At least not in the short run and from individual technology-driven initiatives.

A real and truly successful implementation of Enterprise 2.0 must be the result of concious and careful choices, supporting a transformation that has already been initiated. The transformation must guided by great leadership, carried out as an evolutionary process by the right people who know exactly what to do and what to stop and avoid doing.

These are some of the lesson we can learn from what author Jim Collins has identified turn companies from good companies to great companies:
  • Good-to-great companies focus on what not to do and what to stop doing equally as much as they focus on what they do.
  • Technology can accelerate a transformation, but it cannot cause a transformation. The good-to-great companies used technology to accelerate a transformation which was started by a concious choice. Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. Although they don't use technology to ignite a transformation, they are pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies.
  • Under the right conditions, the problems of commitment, alignment, motivate and change largely melt away.
  • Mediocrity result first and foremost from management failure, not technological failure.
  • The good-to-great companies produced a truly revolutionary leap in results, but not by a revolutionary process.
  • People are not your most important asset. The right people are. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
It is likely that most Enterprise 2.0 initiatives currently taking place won't produce radical business improvements. The reason is simple; they are not trying to accelerate a transformation that has already been initiatied, but rather trying to initiate one. They might produce a few insights that might eventually lead to a transformation, but Enterprise 2.0 won't help to produce radical value until carefully selected 2.0 / social principles, practices and technologies are being applied to accelerate an already initiated transformation.


  1. Really insightful post! I totally agree on your perspective, though I believe that some execs/companies are failing to see technology as just an enabler.

  2. Hi Oscar, great article indeed...but I think you picked the wrong title :). It should rather be "Expect a LOT from Enterprise 2.0", cause we all agree, there is a true difference to be made within firms when management stop fearing its own employees. But I totally agree with you, no cultural shift, no Enterprise 2.0, whether there is some technology in the mix or not.

    For example: I'm working in the 2.0 field and we realized that most IT guys want to stick to old-school IT policies (Strict right management and taxonomy) in spite of the fact it is a key-to-failure in most 2.0 projects. if you're interested.

  3. Hi Sébastien,

    I intentionally chose a rather provocative title. I think it amplifies my point that implementing Enterprise 2.0 without it being part of a bigger cultural transformation will, in most cases, not create the kind of results that many expect. Assuming that most Enterprise 2.0 implementations are not culture-driven but rather technology-driven, the majority of Enterprise 2.0 implementation initiatives won't deliver to what they promise.

    Thanks for the link.