Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Enterprise 2.0: Culture and the islands of Me and We


   Day 2 starts with a session on knowledge management, enterprise 2.0 and the cultural barrier by Carl Frappaolo.

I had high hopes for this session because I think it’s the only one on culture, and I think this is one of the most important and least well understood subjects within E2.0.  As Frappaolo notes, lack of adequate culture and high barriers to adoption, are the root cause of many failures in knowledge management and related fields:

“Enterprise 2.0 on the other hand promises to provide low barrier and organic approaches to knowledge capture, and embraces the open and transparent culture of Web 2.0. Is Enterprise 2.0 the salvation of KM or do cultural and adoption issues still loom? More importantly, is the functionality provided by these tools mature and robust enough to qualify as knowledge management, or only simple collaboration. This talk looks at the critical intersection of Enterprise 2.0 and KM, and asks the critical question – can E20 crack the KM culture and adoption barrier.”


Frappaolo notes that culture is a slippery topic and means different things to different people.  He defines it as the sum total of attitudes, opinions, morals and ethics etc – the different going ons within a community, eg an enterprise. It’s separate to but influenced by process, technology etc.  It can drive processes or totally circumvent them.

In Frappaolo’s view, technology isn’t going to change culture but cultures can act as a pull for technology (* I have a slightly different view).  So it’s important to understand the culture of the organisation that you’re starting with.  In some, E 2.0 isn’t going to work.  So Frappaolo identifies seven cultural types:

  • Islands of me: personal and organisational silos.  Siloed databases work well (not E2.0)
  • One-way me: I am collaborative but in a one-to-many approach. Shared silod repositories, email works well.
  • Team me.  Starting to accept the idea of we.  Shared repositories start to work.
  • Proactive me.  I consider a major part of what I do to be a team player.  Agents, portals, executive dashboards to push knowledge to people are readily accepted.
  • Two-way me.  I’m proactive about building communities.  Social networking is embraced.
  • Islands of we.  Cutting edge of culture.  Senior management buys into the idea of socialness.  A core competency.  Understand emergence.  Think modular and integrated ito IT.
  • Extended me.  Full transparency internally and externally.  Emergence, wisdom of crowds a key part of what they do. 


* A personal view:

Frappaolo’s presentation related to a question that’s often asked on E2.0 blogs: whether you need to change culture first, in order to set the ground for E2.0; or whether you can use E2.0 implementation to change the culture.

To me, it’s the wrong question.  Firstly, because the objective shouldn’t be to implement E2.0.  The objective needs to be to do something valuable, whether this is to achieve business goals or to develop social or knowledge capital.  This will determine whether culture needs to change.

Secondly, I have a slightly different definition of culture to Frappaolo.  To me, culture is about conversation.  So anything that changes the conversations taking place in an organisation changes the culture.  E2.0 is part of this shift.


So I completely agree with Frappaolo’s conclusion: don’t try to change culture just through technology.  And don’t throw technology at groups who don’t want to be collaborative.

A great session!


View today’s keynotes from#e2conf at tv.e2conf.com/ and see my reviews at bit.ly/e20conf

Technorati Tags: Carl Frappaolo,Information Architected,Enterprise 2.0,conference,Boston,culture,knowledge management


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