Sunday, 3 August 2008

Enterprise 2.0: liberating human capital


  I am quoted in an article on social networking published by the IOD's Director magazine, 'Social Workers'.

The article, written by David Woodward, refers to Andrew McAfee's belief that enterprise 2.0 offers:

"The potential for a more "democratic" organisational structure. Used constructively, he said, social media could help alter the shape of the organisation, from a tall hierarchy to a flat, fully-networked team of decision makers. Because the flow of information in an enterprise 2.0-powered company was more efficient, and because all employees with a vested interest could add their input, employees would begin to trade solely on their knowledge, not on their job titles. Hierarchy would effectively become irrelevant."

It notes that not many organisations are meeting this potential and quotes me as saying that:

"Very few companies are currently prioritising this sort of cultural change to anything like the extent that they're focusing on other people management challenges, such as recruiting and developing talent. Many are unconvinced and very suspicious. They're seeing it from a perspective that's 20 years out of date—from a command and control perspective, rather than one that I'd describe as human capital focused; that is, one in which they're truly focused on developing and liberating each person's human capital for the good of the organisation."

This perspective is supported by Richard Dennison at BT who agrees that enterprise 2.0 is very much about "liberating human capital".

"He scoffs at the suggestion that allowing people to connect with each other impacts negatively on their productivity. We think that personal information is still business information. We think mixing the two provides context for you as an individual, it allows people to connect and it allows people to develop deeper personal relationships. Without it we're all one-dimensional suits. We're trying to get away from that attitude that you have to be a different person at work." (see also my post on BTpedia)

The article also notes use of enterprise 2.0 systems at Microsoft, IBM, Sun Microsystems, SAP, Mastercard, John Lewis, O2, Pfizer, Lockheed Martin, UNICEF, BNP Paribas, Nokia and Cisco.

Returning to my point on command and control, John Chambers at Cisco is quoted as stating:

"The hard part about collaboration is [that] we don't like change. Nor did my organisation and nor did I. I love command and control and I'm pretty good at it: 65,000 people; I say turn right, we turn right. I very rarely have to say it twice.' But, he added, command and control wasn't the future. 'The future is the ability of groups to think together, to combine knowledge and experience." It's a question of trust."