Bring on the change police!

OK, so assuming that we (us little, geeky, leaders – with a small ‘l’ – of the digital revolution) all believe a positive change is going to come, how is it going to happen?

Do we march in to corporate businesses like The Change Police, demanding an end to all this management 1.0 way of doing things, and lining up detractors against a (fire)wall?

Or do we run it like a viral campaign, planting comments in a few choice places, choosing tastemakers and creating a gentle buzz (see 2gether08’s ice cream experiment).

There’s no doubt that, to be lasting, the change needs to come in an incremental, organic way.

So how to we persuade private business do this?

Euan Semple recently listed some reasons as to why most companies who try to do Enterprise 2.0 will fail.

Here are some challenges to each point:

1. Sure, it’s a matter of perception, but once Generation Y gets established in the workplace, fear of ‘technology’ won’t be an issue.

2. This is true, but given enough success stories, even the hardest of heads will be turned.

3. Managers have to experience the ‘Web 2.0’ way for themselves. And see the light. Only then they will realise that the underlying business culture needs to change.

4. See 3.

5. If early adopters are likely to be ground down, then it’s high time they got out and did their own thing.

6. Own goal, then.

7. Yes, but even the most lowly of us know that short-termism isn’t the answer to anything.

8. Very true. But see 1.

2 replies on “Bring on the change police!”

hi Jemima, I heard of your work from two of my fave people, Steve Moore and David Wilcox, so came over to look up your blog, and I am glad that I did.

I fully agree with your point 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8. Regarding point 3, I see things differently from both Euan and you. Steve wrote:

> They will assimilate it into business as usual

Wikis and blogs enable more horizontal communication, thus opportunities for self-organizing group formation around shared interest and practice. That’s not quite business as usual.

Your wrote:

> Managers have to experience the ‘Web 2.0’ way for themselves. And see the light. Only then they will realize that the underlying business culture needs to change.

Some will, others will feel threatened, particularly if they see the value of their command-and-control skill set eroding.

But why should we equate companies with their managers? Each business is a complex social system with many stakeholders, including the communities of practitioners who embody the company’s competences. Knowledge networks, innovation communities, communities of practice, under any other name, can also be the source of the success stories you referred to in point 2.

To see and support that possibility, we need to shift the focus of our discourse from technology adoption to a core competence of leading in a networked world: the competence to cultivate and sponsor (not manage!) communities of practice, co-creation and innovation.

I didn’t quite get your point 6. Would you mind to elaborate it a li’l bit?

Thank you for reflecting on Euan’s post. It feels to me, this is a conversation worth to have and deepen.


p.s.: the “most companies who try to do Enterprise 2.0 will fail” links gives only an “Error 404 – Not Found” message. Try this URL:

As I explained over on the original post I don’t deny any of what Jemima says and given I make my living out of helping most of her points come true I am bound to agree with them. However – I also still maintain that, in the short term at least, a lot of corporate attempts top do what is essentially an individual thing will fail for the reasons I gave.

Totally agree with George’s point about it not being about technology but about learning the skills to manage in a networked world.

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