Three questions to answer before starting your Enterprise 2.0 project
The Xpragmatic View #153
September 15, 2010
by Marc Buyens, Xpragma
Technological solutions often only address the symptoms of a problem. Clearly understanding the root causes of the problem and identifying the correct remedies for removing these causes are threfore the mandatory, preliminary steps for choosing the right solution.
The September 2010 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly had a brief, but interesting article on 'Boosting the productivity of knowledge workers' by Eric Matson and Laurence Prusak. The expression 'boosting' might be a bit overdone, but the article is certainly worthwhile reading.
In the article, the authors examine the different types of barriers knowledge workers face in their daily interactions. According to the authors, such barriers can be physical, technical, social or cultural, contextual, and temporal. Identifying and addressing these barriers is key to improving the productivity of knowledge workers.
The article is not specifically written in the context of Enterprise 2.0, although it mentions the use of such solutions to remedy some of the interaction issues identified. Still, for all those who are planning for Enterprise 2.0 initiatives, they might want to give this some further thought. Three important observations:
Identifying the real barrier
First, do we really know the real interaction barriers? Indeed, identifying the barriers for the 'right' interactions to occur is often much more complex than we might think. Of course, there are the obvious suspects such as physical barriers, which in general have to do with the geographical distribution of the organisation and its employees. Yet, even in those situations, the physical separation is not always the real barrier.
Identifying the correct remedy
Second, can we identify the behaviour that would remove these barriers? The correct remedies that can remove such barriers most often are more complex and have to go much further than simply improving connectedness and information flow. Depending upon the specific situation, correct remedies often involve changing an existing context.
Designing the right solution
And finally, what will the right solution have to look like? While in many of the cases mentioned, social technology was part of the solution, in nearly all cases, this was complemented by other types of 'social' interaction approaches, such as face-to-face meetings, formal workshops, getting-together events, which often proved to be the real catalysts for initiating and keeping the momentum.
None of these requirements should be a blocking factor for your future Enterprise 2.0 project, but you better have these answered and sorted out in detail before you start the feature discussion with the potential vendors.
About Marc Buyens
Marc Buyens is analyst, management consultant and owner of Xpragma. He started Xpragma in 1999 after a 20+ years career in the IT sector. Today, he provides advice, training and mentoring services focusing on the intersection of technological evolution, organisational change and business strategy: a messy world of unfulfilled promises.
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