Enterprise 2.0: The Three-Legged Stool Revisited
In my role as Director of Education Solutions at Web 2.0 University™, I recently updated our outstanding (if I do say so myself) Enterprise 2.0 Bootcamp to include a model I used in earlier knowledge management learning products. I can’t claim the model as my own – it has been around for quite sometime – but I wanted to update it for E2.0. The three-legged stool model is designed to reinforce the importance of processes and culture in the success of E2.0 implementations. Because the technology is primarily “what’s new” in E2.0, it gets most of the attention. But processes and culture are just as important. All three must be balanced for the stool to work properly. So, let’s briefly review the Enterprise 2.0 Three-Legged Stool.
The first leg is technology and it has been the primary topic of E2.0 discussion. The innovative platforms and tools of Web 2.0 are being carried into the enterprise. Wikis, blogs, social networks, prediction markets, open APIs and mashups empowered people on the Web and now people want that same power at work (for more info, Dion Hinchcliffe has a great post how E2.0 technologies may fare in 2008). And while we focus much of our discussion on technology, you cannot just “build it and they will come.” You must have the other legs in place for the stool to stand.
The second leg is processes. Though usually emergent phenomena, E2.0 solutions needs to establish standard process and procedures in order to be successful. Employees must understand how each of the E2.0 tools works, how it interacts with other tools, and how they are expected to use it. E2.0 tools should be easy to use by definition, but employees will still need to be educated on “how” “why” and “what”. The “how” is an understanding of the tools’ function and features: “How do I use this to be more successful at work?” The “why” is about understanding the benefits to themselves and the larger organization: “Why is it worthwhile for me to use the tool?” The “what” is about understanding what the tool should be (and should not be) used for: “What would I use this tool to do?”
The third leg is culture. For E2.0 to succeed the organization must value collaboration and knowledge sharing. This is often the most challenging of the three legs. If your organization does not already have a culture that values collaboration and information sharing, it may be impossible for your E2.0 implementation to be successful. But cultures can be changed. Before we consier changing a culture, let’s be sure we agree on what a culture is. For our purposes, I will define culture as: “The behaviors and values characteristic of a particular group.” Within a culture, we have “mores” and “taboos” (and many other things we won’t go into). Again for our purposes, I will define mores as: “Accepted traditional customs and behaviors of a particular group” and taboos as: “Behaviors proscribed by a group as improper or unacceptable.”
So how do you create a collaborative culture? The group (especially leaders) must adopt the values and behaviors that foster collaboration and information sharing. Leaders must establish mores by modeling and rewarding collaboration. For instance, they should use the blogs and wikis themselves and they could make active collaboration an integral part of the organizations annual performance reviews. The entire organization can use taboos to encourage collaboration. Consider this chastising praise: “That was a great analysis paper you wrote, but why did you email a copy to everyone instead of just posing it on the wiki?” From a leader or a peer, that sort of feedback will help mold a culture of collaboration. Of course cultural change takes time. Take that into account when plan your E2.0 implementation and set expectations accordingly.
So there you have the three legged stool of Enterprise 2.0 (or any type of collaboration/knowledge sharing system). Successful E2.0 implementations assure that all three legs of the stool are strong and balanced. They also recognize that a change in any one of the legs may require changes in the other two to keep the stool balanced. To close with a blatant plug, I encourage you to join us at a delivery of the Enterprise 2.0 Bootcamp to learn more about the three legged stool and successful E2.0 implementations.
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