Leadership 2.0

How do you manage Enterprise 2.0?

It’s 8pm on a balmy Thursday evening and area around St.Paul’s is deserted. Forty minutes ago, the Standard Chartered Great City Race went by but the crowds have now vanished, and the roads are still closed. I fight off any nagging doubts about what I’m doing here.

At the door of the BT Centre on Newgate Street, the security guard informs me, deadpan, that registration is closed.

Then, bizarrely, he hands me three boxes of name badges and asks me to identify mine. Within seconds, I’m Jane Henry from SpinVox (sorry, Jane). I’m allowed to step down the stairs deep into the basement, where it’s a relief to find a party going on.

Today I had to drive a sick friend down to Devon and back (11 hour round trip), so I’ve missed the main event, a Mashup panel debate on the current thinking around Enterprise 2.0, but I get the lowdown from Cimex director, Denise Turner, and event organiser, Emma Jell, who tells me I can watch the whole thing back online. Yay!

Enterprise 2.0 is, basically, social media for intranets. I’m interested because it looks at the hard technologies that support the softer skillset (‘Leadership 2.0’) I’m exploring for my book. Having said that, Enterprise 2.0 is, itself, just another concept, rather than a definitive set of tools.

Here’s a summary of interesting points from the event:

Jonathan Robinson (COO, NetBenefit): A few years ago, Phones 4U CEO, John Caudwell decided to ban all internal email in the workplace. There are also concerns about social networking (Facebook, Bebo etc) at work. A recent paper in The Architects’ Journal spoke about users freeing themselves from constraints of IT and the bar to knowledge management being lowered etc. Essentially, managers are worried about three things:

  • Time-wasting
  • Confidentiality
  • Control

Nigel Green (Executive Enterprise Architect, Capgemini UK): My job is to look at how we can apply web 2.0 technologies to the enterprise. I’m mentioning RFID first and not wikis and blogs. There’s a lot of stuff out there which, from a CIO’s point of view, is mind-boggling. We need to make sense of those typically web 2.0 terms which get thrown up all the time: the ‘long tail’, prosumerism, mashups, unbundled everything. We need to simplify the language we use.

JP Rangaswami (Managing Director, Service Design for BT Design): ‘Enterprise 1.0’ is sitting in a meeting surreptiously looking at your Blackberry under the table; ‘Enterprise 2.0’ is sitting in a cafe where everyone is on their laptops and everyone is chatting. The central epithet of 2.0 is its ‘write-ability’. We are social beings. There are three key things to consider in the uptake of Enterprise 2.0:

  • Generation ‘M’ [what JP calls the ‘Millennial’ generation – also known as Generation ‘Y’] are already adopting this stuff.
  • To grow as a company, you’re going to have to learn to share confidential information (otherwise you’re simply going round in circles).
  • The nature of expertise has changed: the cost of ‘cleaning up’ is lessened; many of us can correct mistakes more easily (Linus’s Law).

Enterprise 2.0 is not about a technology, it’s about a culture. People like sharing; it’s only enterprises that screw it up. We’ve had social networks in enterprises for a very long time (Bloomberg has had one for 15 years).

Ajit Jaokar – Founder, Futuretext: Blogging is not about talking ‘at’ somebody, you’re trying to create a conversation. So you don’t have to come out with something that is ‘perfect’, you release it – imperfect – into the discussion. [This ties in very much with what Russell Davies was saying at 2gether08].

Jonathan Robinson: Enterprise 2.0 is not tied up in a technology, it’s a way of working.

Simon Wardley (consultant): IT is shifting from a product-focus to a service-focus. The commodatisation of lots of services is leading to acceleration of innovation. When you bring web 2.0 into the enterprise, that’s what it’s all about – accelerating innovation. We’re seeing far more participation and collaboration and network effects in the workplace.

Jonathan Robinson: I’m seeing a lot of dictonomies here, eg: management versus emergent.

There were questions, but unfortunately the sound quality of the video was so bad, I’m not even going to try and interpret them – lots of food for thought from the speakers, though. This is helping to form my ideas around Leadership 2.0 – Enterprise 2.0 is all very well, but how do you actually manage it, and how do you make it happen?