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When Should Management Push Enterprise 2.0 Adoption?

After the Boston edition of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, IBM’s Rawn Shah wrote a great follow-up post outlining ten observations from the event. A couple points that I found myself agreeing with wholeheartedly were:

Adoption is about transforming human behaviors at work – More folks are starting to recognize that it is not trivial to bring communities and other social environments to life.

‘Let’s get beyond “adoption”’ – This was another sentiment I heard several times, but I attribute it to short-attention span. The general statement was ‘adoption’ was last-year’s thing, and we needed a new ‘thing’.

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The underlying philosophy of his post contrasts with that of Paula Thornton, who finds talk of driving adoption to be antithetical to the true nature of Enterprise 2.0. As she described in a post from several months ago:

If you have to “drive adoption” you’ve failed at 2.0 design and implementation. The fundamentals of 2.0 are based on design that is organic — meets the individual where they are and adapts based on feedback — it emerges. The ‘adoption’ comes from rigorous ‘adaptation’ — it continuously morphs based on involvement from the ‘masses’. If done right, you can’t keep them away…because you’ve brought the scratch for their itch.

While I empathize with her design-driven perspective, I personally find there to be more to people’s adoption patterns. Sometimes the superior design does not win. Existing network effects may prove a high barrier to adoption of something new. Embedded history makes the current approach valuable. And other reasons intrude.

In considering adoption, we have the push strategy (by management), and the pull strategy (viral, organically spreads). Both are viable approaches. The key factor is to determine when each needs to be employed.

A Decision Framework for Pushing Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

The graphic below outlines a basis for determining when Enterprise 2.0 adoption must be pushed, and when to let adoption be pulled:

The two key factors in the framework are user-centric and organization-centric.

The X-axis highlights a key reality. If a current approach/technology is working well enough for users, there is an inertia to making a switch of any kind. This principle is nicely captured in the “9x problem”, an explanation by Harvard professor John Gourville that was highlighted by Andrew McAfee. The 9x problem is this:

Users will overvalue existing products/solutions by 3 times, and undervalue the benefits of a new products/solutions by 3 times.

We’re for the most part risk-averse (e.g. technology adoption lifecycle is back-end loaded), and giving up existing ways presents a level of uncertainty. It’s the devil we know versus the devil we don’t. We place a value on the certainty of current methods, even if flawed.

The other part of the 9x equation is that users will place an uncertainty discount against new products/solutions enumerated benefits. Yes, it’s true. We don’t always buy everything we’re told.

The Y-axis speaks to the value of E2.0 to organizations. Certainly there will be use cases that can drive high value for the organization. And just as certainly, there will be those use cases that contribute little to organizational value.

Let’s run through the different approaches mapped on the graph, clockwise from top right.

Requires a Top-Down Push

Situation:

  • Existing ways are ‘good enough’ for employees
  • Executives see great potential for value from adoption

What might this be? Imagine management has seen too many examples of people missing key information and connecting the dots well with others are working on. An enlightened C-level type knows there is an opportunity to pick it up a level.

So some sort of social software – e.g. wiki, collaboration groups, etc. – is selected to make this a reality. But guess what? People keep emailing to one another and saving docs to the LAN.

Why? Because those are the tools they know, there is no learning curve and everyone operates on a shared set of processes and assumptions. Things work “as is”.

This is where management needs to wield its power, and come up with ways to influence employees to alter their entrenched behaviors that work “good enough”.

Mix a Push-Pull Strategy

Situation:

  • Existing ways are actually not “good enough”
  • There is high value in large-scale adoption

This is the home run of initiatives. Solves a “what’s in it for me” need of individuals, while also presenting a great chance to advance the value of the organization.

An innovation platform is a good example here. A place for individuals to express those ideas that fire them up or just plain solve annoyances. Which get lost in the email inbox.

But the opportunity for new ideas that deliver to the bottom line gets management’s attention.

Pull works here, as word spreads about the initiative. But management has an interest in making sure everyone is aware of the initiative, as soon as possible. Push tactics are good supplements.

Let It Grow Organically

Situation:

  • Existing ways are actually not “good enough”
  • There is low value in large-scale adoption

This is a tough one. Clearly the “Enterprise 2.0 way” can solve a problem for employees, but its adoption cannot be seen to lead to high impact on company value. An example here? Hmm…tough one. Enterprise bookmarking might be one area. Solves the, “how do I find things?” conundrum, for me personally and for others. But hard to see just how it will increase firm value. At least on a standalone basis.

Best to let these initiatives grow of their own accord. Let their value emerge, often with stories.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Situation:

  • Existing ways are ‘good enough’ for employees
  • There is low value in large-scale adoption

Suffice to say, this one should be killed before it ever starts.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 121109

From the home office in San Francisco where I’ll be taking an indefinite break from golf…

#1: On top of Chatter, Salesforce buys GroupSwim http://bit.ly/8KxLGe (by @benkepes) Ever, ever deeper into #e20

#2: Check out: Enterprise 2.0 – Someone Has To Sell This Shit http://bit.ly/5XypZV #e2conf > funniest title so far #e20

#3: So very interesting: Let’s talk about chickens and e2.0 http://bit.ly/7xyDNj by @merigruber “Teams” of star performers are less productive

#4: Intellipedia suffers midlife crisis — Government Computer News > Still “just a marginal revolution” #e20 http://post.ly/EDLK

#5: Social networking is the creation of relationships, collaboration and knowledge around social objects. [credit to @gapingvoid here]

#6: What will power next-generation businesses? http://bit.ly/8TAGkI by @dhinchcliffe #community #crowdsourcing #e20 #innovation

#7: Three Secret Weapons Of Innovation: Sensemaking, Weak Signals Reading And Futuretyping. Which One Of Them Do You Cur… http://post.ly/EfDV

#8: Organizations’ Innovation Dark Energy – Employee Motivations (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/7XAwk6 #innovation

#9: RT @johntodor Here’s my take on Hutch Carpenter’s Four Quadrants of Innovation. http://bit.ly/BUX8u #innovation

#10: Thanks @guykawasaki for picking up my Four Quadrants of Innovation blog post: http://bit.ly/6HsXE1 @innovate #innovation

Early Peek at Speaker Submissions for Enterprise 2.0 Boston 2010

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference Boston Call for Papers has been open for a little over a week now. While the final number of speaker proposals will number in the hundreds (450+ for SF 2009), the initial 29 submissions are a rich vein of current thinking about Enterprise 2.0.

As you can see in the tag cloud from the site, the top tags so far for the proposed sessions are:

  1. technology adoption
  2. social media
  3. best practices
  4. knowledge management
  5. getting started
  6. learning
  7. business case

Technology is the top tag. There’s no denying that technology enables Enterprise 2.0. Adoption is running strong so far. Which is a pretty fair characterization of a key issue in the field. Social media comes on strong. There are plenty of conferences devoted to that topic, and here even a conference primarily addressing to internal collaboration has its share.

A Few of the Proposals

Based on page views, here are the five most popular submissions early on:

Three Keys to a Successful SharePoint Deployment (Rich Blank):

There are 3 keys to deploying SharePoint successfully for a large enterprise: Platform, Governance, and Marketing. The first part involves a stable, available, easily accessible, secure, well performing global technology platform. If users can’t access the environment, they won’t trust it or won’t use it. Next is governance – all things related to the overall project as well as the operational and support involved. Finally there is marketing — you need to market the application to end users, provide quick introductions to get them started, best practices, conduct demos that demonstrate business value, create proof of concepts, and show people what’s possible. You shouldn’t have to provide formal training if you market the application right. Each of these 3 are not mutually exclusive — you can’t have marketing without the platform and good governance.

Driving Adoption is anti-2.0 (Paula Thornton):

There’s way too much 1.0-thinking being applied to the 2.0 era. “Driving adoption” is the antithesis of the fundamental premises of 2.0. Starting with 2.0 axioms is critical to guide any 2.0 initiative.

Connecting the Dots to Competitive Advantage (Jon Ingham):

Enterprise 2.0 can increase efficiencies and help meet business objectives but it can also generate competitive advantage.  To create higher levels of value, the use of social technologies needs to be linked to other organizational enablers, eg HR practices, OD interventions, facilities design etc.  This session will show how.

Lessons from Religion about Evangelizing Enterprise 2.0 (Gil Yehuda):

The E2.0 marketplace has evangelists, non-believers, and faith-based ROI models. But the workplace is modeled after the hierarchy of government and the meritocracy of the marketplace. Wherein lies community? As it turns out, religion can teach us about the nature of community in context of preparing the workplace for E2.0.

Moving Beyond Email — Barriers to Knowledge Management (James Rosen):

Email is fast, free, and easy to use, but it has many limitations, especially in an enterprise context. Yet many employees, especially baby-boomers, rely on it nearly exclusively. This talk examines the use cases for which email is the wrong tool, and how to move to better ones.

That’s just a few of them, check ’em all out. And be ready to vote come January 2010.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 111309

From the home office in my watery swimming pool on the moon…

#1: RT @innovate: The 50 Best Inventions of 2009 http://ow.ly/BVB0 #innovation I like #40 Edible Race Car. #9 Tweeting by thinking?

#2: RT @lindegaard: Tough Questions and Great Answers: General Mills Steps Up to the Open Innovation Plate: http://bit.ly/2nEXSv

#3: Microsoft Bing team gets kudos for #innovation. First tweet search, now Wolfram|Alpha integration http://ow.ly/BrHC

#4: Is Twitter Trying to Lure You Back to Twitter.com? http://ow.ly/AfcU by @robdiana > Maybe a way to drive page views for ads?

#5: Regarding new Twitter retweet function, @stoweboyd has some good points about it http://ow.ly/AIl7 Inability to add text is a miss

#6: October was a slow traffic month for the social networks, in a detailed look by @louisgray http://ow.ly/BCgU Facebook still growing

#7: UK Guardian discusses how to deal when your boss is on Twitter (& links to my #cisco fatty blog post f/ March) http://ow.ly/Bkrf

#8: Check out: Driving Adoption is anti-2.0 http://bit.ly/1ksZAr #e2conf > Leave it to @rotkapchen!

#9: Do we create the world just by looking at it? http://bit.ly/1kdTOs “Human body is a just barely adequate measuring device” #quantumphysics

#10: Commentator on NPR this AM criticizes Californians for social liberal/fiscal conservative & not wanting taxes. Western libertarian strain!

Enterprise 2.0 Conference Gets All Social in Its Call for Papers

E2.0 Conference logo PNGThe Enterprise 2.0 Conference has opened its Call for Papers for the Boston 2010 show. And boy, it’s changing things up. In a good way.

The Conference is using Spigit to manage the collection and selection of proposals for sessions at the Boston event. What this does is make the whole process more transparent, shareable and collaborative. More on that in a minute. First…

Anyone remember what it was like to go through the session proposal process?

  • We’d submit our proposals into the SurveyMonkey tool. We then didn’t see them for a while.
  • Couldn’t get community feedback to improve your proposal prior to the start of the voting.
  • Once the voting began, there were 16 pages of proposed sessions. And each page had like 20 proposals on it. You couldn’t page ahead, so taking the survey was an onerous process.
  • If you have an interest in a specific category, it was impossible to drill down to just those proposed sessions in that category.
  • You couldn’t share specific proposals with others (“um…page forward to page 13…yeah, middle of the page…you see it?”).
  • You had to be ready to decide on every one of the proposals during your one login session, otherwise forget it.

My guess is that most people taking the survey read less than 25% of them. Just too painful.

The Enterprise 2.0 Call for Papers was clearly in need of some…Enterprise 2.0.

Now This Is How We Do It

Much is different in the Boston 2010 Call for Papers process. It’s a much more Enterprise experience for participants. In fact, let’s examine the new process under the FLATNESSES framework, introduced by Dion Hinchcliffe.

FLATNESSES

Freeform: Each proposed session is entered into an initially blank description field. It’s up to each person what to write. Links and formatting are available. Now there is some structure, as the Enterprise 2.0 Conference has some information it needs for every submission.

Links: Each proposal has its own link, making it shareable on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Individuals will also have their own social profile, with a unique URL. Links can also be embedded inside each session proposal.

Authorship: All contributions – proposals, comments – on the Call for Papers are linked to the person who made them. This makes it easy to find people with relevant interests.

Tagging: Each submitted proposal can be tagged for extra context. These tags then become part of a tag cloud, and are individually searchable.

Network-oriented: In his blog post, Dion describes this element as “fully Web-oriented, addressable, and reusable”. That describes the proposals for Boston 2010 versus what they were in SurveyMonkey. RSS feeds allow users to follow the action off the site as well.

Extensions: “Extend knowledge by mining patterns and user activity.” The Spigit platform tracks myriad interactions among participants and content. These interactions are part of the wisdom of the crowd used in advancing proposals through the selection stages. The system will also let you know if a proposal potentially matches one you’ve entered.

Search: All proposals and users are searchable. In fact, there are numerous ways to search for proposals: keywords, tags, category, selection process stage, submitter, modification date and others.

Social: Every contribution is associated to a user, a great start for social transparency. Participants have their own profiles on the platform, making it easy for others to understand their background. Commenting is threaded, allowing different conversations to occur. Individuals can connect with one another on the platform, and see an activity stream for all their connections. Individuals can email one another through the platform (while not revealing the source email addresses).

Emergence: The entire philosophy of the platform is emergence. First, session proposals are posted from around the world, subject only to individuals’ initiative. The community then provides feedback, both extrinsic and intrinsic. The crowd rates the proposals (starting January 2010), which is lets the top proposals emerge for selection to the Boston 2010 Conference.

Signals: Following content and users is an important feature for the new Call for Papers process. RSS feeds can track categories, discussion forums and individual proposal changes. The activities of your social network of tracked, making it easy to jump in. Email notifications are also used to track these areas, in case that’s you preferred signal tool.

I’m looking to forward to seeing how the Enterprise 2.0 community leverages the FLATNESSES goodness in the new Call for Papers process. And you can read more about the different Enterprise 2.0 features of the site here.

So get hopping. Enter a proposal or take a look at what others have already submitted.