Trust and change

Jon MellJon Mell comments on the cultural and organisational change required to truly embrace Enterprise2.0:

[Enterprise 2.0] will require more and more “knowledge workers” – people who don’t follow an administrative business process to do their jobs but rely on their experiences, professionalism and networks to add value to their organisations – or, as recently described by Thomas A Stewart,  ”someone who gets to decide what he does each morning..”

Organisations need to trust these professionals, they will not be in the office from 9-5 every day. These are exactly the sorts of people who thrive on their personal networks, they are the people who you go to when you need to know what’s going on. Social software brings the same level of productivity increases for these people as type-writers and then word processors did for a previous generation of workers. It takes their natural propensity to connect, to share, to add value and extends it in the same way the internet extends our access to information.


It won’t be enough to hire knowledge workers to survive and thrive in this recession. Organisations will have to change their business practices to take advantage of their abilities, and provide them with the tools to be effective. Word, Outlook and even Sharepoint won’t cut it. They will need custom built social platforms, or products such as Confluence, Jive, Socialtext and Lotus Connections.


This is not a technology driven change. These tools are a response to a new way of organising and operating companies, breaking free from 1950s management theory and production lines to treating people as individuals who get things done by independently and autonomously adding value through their networks. Organisations need to embrace the business change first, and look at the software second. Otherwise the competition will gain a significant competitive edge, whilst you’re worrying about the ROI of the investment in the latest “it’s like Facebook, but…” product
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Absolutely spot on, Jon.  That’s why no Enterprise2.0 toolset (including Lotus Connections) is a drop-in technology that on its own with radically change an organisation’s knowledge sharing and/or working practices.  Cultural change must go hand-in-hand with the right tools in order to transform the organisation into one that is truly collaborative in nature.

In presentations, I often quote from a University of Toronto paper that describes the characteristics of a collaborative organisation:

A collaborative organisation is one that has the following characteristics:

  • The values and objectives of employees and management are aligned,
  • A climate of mutual trust and respect exists,
  • The knowledge of all the staff, customers and suppliers is shared and pooled to optimize the organisation’s operations and opportunities,
  • Decision making is more decentralised than it is in most current organisations and more stakeholders in the organisation play a role in defining the direction in which the organization moves, and
  • Hierarchical structures are kept to a minimum. The company is managed democratically by consensus rather than by command and control.

As you can appreciate, whilst Enterprise2.0 tools will undeniably assist with aspects of the list above (particularly the pooling of knowledge and decision-making), real in-depth and sustained analysis of the organisation’s culture, business practices and leadership will be required in order to make any of these desired characteristics into reality.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!