Friday, 10 July 2009

Enterprise 2.0 / the Kumbaya Zone


The Kumbaya Zone  I’ve been following the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

One of the issues that seems to have been coming through is – what is Enterprise 2.0 designed to do?

For instance, in ‘Enterprise 2.0: Confronting Social Media's Dirty Little Secret’, Information Week’s Alexander Wolfe suggests:

“Everyone is seeking ways (and tools) to connect people in more collaborative ways. Perhaps that's because many companies have been stripped-mined into flatness, where today's employees have to cut through layers to get stuff done, because those layers just don't exist anymore. Or maybe it's because of the geographically dispersed nature of modern workteams.”


And in ‘Enterprise 2.0: A solution in search of a problem’, Victoria Axelrod at 21st Century Organization notes that:

“The emphasis needs to be on the who, not the how which is where E2.0 has focused despite protestations of its proponents.”


Michael Krigsman (quoting Jonathan Yarmis) may have expressed it best, discussing the need to avoid the Kumbaya Zone at IT project Failures on ZDNet:

“The Kumbaya Zone is where we all sit around the campfire, singing odes to social media, and how important it is to “engage in the conversation.” If I hear that phrase one more time, I think I’ll go crazy. Instead, we need to apply social media strategies with a sound business strategy in mind. Why should I do this? Which conversations do I want to engage in?What outcomes do I hope to achieve from engaging in those conversations?”


I’d agree – although I still think this suggests a overly heavy technology focus.  We need to begin with the business strategy – the social media strategy falls out of that.

I’ve not been a strong supported of Enterprise 2.0 in the way it’s been defined (Andrew McAfee etc), and I’ve suggested ‘Social Business’ and ‘Competitive Society’ as alternatives.

But I do actually like the 2.0 tag – as long as it’s applied to something ‘social’, not just something different, particularly not just slightly different.  I think this suggests a clear qualitative, not just a qualitative change.

And I think there’s still a clear opportunity for Enterprise 2.0 to inform this transformative change.  But for this to happen, we need to put developing social capital (not technology) first.



Picture credit: The Kumbaya Zone, ZDNet


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