Observations from the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum – collaboration, innovation and conversation

5 March, 2008

Finally, here are some of my observations from Ross Dawson‘s Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum

Firstly, while there was nothing particularly new in what I heard from Andrew McAfee and Euan Semple, it was great to hear them both speak face to face even if only by videoconference. However, I’m sure for many other people attending the forum this might have been the first time they have come across these thought leaders in the Enterprise 2.0 space – considering McAfee initially defined “Enterprise 2.0”, his ideas and the SLATES model are an important starting point. They also counter pointed the sponsor’s presentations, who quite frankly I felt struggled to really described Enterprise 2.0. A couple of Euan’s points I scribbled down were:

  • Its about bottom up change;
  • Ask for forgiveness, not permission;
  • Deal with the issue of regulating the use of social media tool, by using social media tools to discuss the issues (nice!); and
  • Managers have been operating under the false assumption – “you never had control!

I also enjoyed the local case studies, which is of course in part what the forum was all about:

  • Melbourne-based KM’er Andrew Mitchell talked about his experiences of using social media tools at Urbis – blogging didn’t work so well (this was all the experience of others) and they had more success with wikis. I also like Andrew’s idea that organisations need both lasting truths as well as point in time truths.
  • Victor Rodrigues from Cochlear talked about their slow, bottom up growth of social media that started about 2 ½ years ago and reached a tipping point about 8 months ago – lessons included the need for constant gardening, putting the right infrastructure in place, giving people access to the tools and the providing training and coaching (for both wikis and other tools). I would have liked to have spoken to Victor as I remember hearing that they had quite well implemented traditional collaboration suite, so I wonder what happened to that?
  • Nathan Wallace of the now well known Janssen-Cilag Wiki case study spoke about his experience and more recent initiatives, including experiments with using Twitter to publish awareness information on their wiki. The key take away from Nathan was that Janssen-Cilag aren’t using it so much as a classic anyone can edit wiki (although the functionality is there), but just a very easy to use intranet content management system (and there is nothing wrong with that).

Incidentally, just about everyone using wikis inside their organisations appeared to be using Confluence.

One of the other issues raised during the forum was the issue of time wasting. The consensus appeared to be that some people will always find ways to waste time, but social media tools are a bit more visible. There are far better ways of avoiding doing work, like attending meetings. Further, while organisations say they are focused on efficiency often the processes within them are inefficient and people need personal connections to actually get work done in an efficient way.

Jonathan Stern from IBM Lotus, who were an event sponsor, also made the point that increased efficiency can only take you so far, innovation comes from internal and external collaboration – they also talked about the need for a “collaborative infrastructure”, a concept close to my heart! (while I can’t take credit for the term, its a concept I’ve been using for a while).

So, (and this is from notes) Enterprise 2.0 is all about collaboration, innovation and conversation.

BTW These are just my impressions – check out the E2EF blog, which has exploded with posts from participants, and really demonstrating the interest in the Enterprise 2.0 trend right now here in Australia.

Also cross-posted on the ChiefTech blog.

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