Enterprise 2.0 : the time when Mr McKinsey, The Geek and Mrs Smith seat together

One of the biggest issues encountered in the the first “enteprise 2.0″ projets and, globally in everything that aimed at changing in any way the people work according to current issues, was the fact the interested parties where all going in their own direction without taking the others into account. Some thinking the others would naturally know where to go, some thinking they weren’t heard by the others.

It seems that this time will soon be over, if I rely on my own observations and that whe can read between the lines of the Hype 2008 Gartner report on “web and users interations technologies“.

As a matter of fact, McKinsey, the Geek and Mrs Smith decided to talk to each other.

What I am talking about ?

McKinsey is CEO’s best friend. He’s even often the best friend of the whole board. He’s been repeating for years that enterprise will have to organize as networks, innovate collaboratively, that the world is changing and that knowledge will not be a “soft thing” anymore but the fuel that will make business run. Sometimes, McKinsey invites its friends, like Gary Hamel in order to make people understand that the companies we’ve known so far has not a long time to live, that the hierarchical and “command and control” system will lead us to failure, and that in a very close time, there will be three kind of companies : those that will have deeply changed, thos that will change lately and painfully…and those who will die

McKinsey is very brilliant and his friends know that…and that’s why they ask him for advice. And they understand he’s talking about vital issues. But there’s still a long way between knowing things and doing things (by the way I highly advise you to read “The Knowing Doing Gap” by Bob Sutton…). Why ? Because other involved people are very very far from all these considerations and that there is no real discussion about all that. Furthermore those concepts related to strategy and organizational performance are quickly traduced into “enterprise 2.0″ and “web 2.0″, a hyped up techno-centered concept that does not seem serious enough for them, and may sometimes scare them.

In short, Mr; McKinsey feels very lonely. And not heard on the floors below.

The second participant is Mr. Geek. He doesn’t care at all about strategy, organization. But he cares a lot about web 2.0. Mr Geek makes wonderful things everyday using social networks, blogs, wikis. He’s having fun but he also does things in a very efficient way and thinks two things The first is that using those tools within the enterprise would really by more fun that all the prehistorical tools that are actually at his disposal. The second is that it would also make things much easier. Being able to easily find the right people, the right information, discuss, exchange, build small ad-hoc networks, being efficient rather than formal. It’s so obvious that he doesn’t even realize it would be a sort of revolution. And he doesn’t undersand why those tools are forbidden in his workspace. So he tries “under the radar” and it works. To he try to makes it more visible and everything break down. The board, who listen to McKinsey, bewares of this connoted web 2.0. Then Mrs Smith, whom we’ll talk about later, has nothing to do with gadgets that make no sense for her. And Mr CIO is building as many barriers as he can. Mr. Geek and Mr. CIO are no friend at all.

So comes Mrs Smith. She really don’t cares about what Mr. McKinsey and Mr Geek could say. She’s only here to do her job, and she does as good as possible. In fact she finds McKinsey rather funny because despites of his great discourses, she never sees any change in her day to day job. And if she tries to do what McKinsey says, she would have big troubles with her manager. Furthermore, it would have a very bad impact on her job’s evaluation according to the way she’s evaluated. She can’t see how, according to the she’s asked to work, Mr Geek’s tools would be of any help. Granny Smith, her mother, used to work in a factory where she was tightening screws. Mrs Smith, her, is solving problems in front of a computer. A radical change ? Not really because she’s asked to work in the same kind of organization than her mother. She founds it stupid and sensesless by, as years went by, she became fatalist and now she thinks nothing will ever change. But in her deeper mind she would really like the organization to help her instead of building barriers that makes her job harder to do.

There’s nothing pejorative about her in what I say ; CEO, managers, simple employees : everyone is a Mr/Mrs Smith. Even the Geek. It’s, in fact, always a Smith that preven other Smithes to listen to do what McKinsey asks.

In the two lasts years, McKinsey had ideas but never really try to explain them to Mrs Smith. Mr Geek tried some experiments but it was hard to justify web 2.0 in a business context since those tools weren’t used for critical business tasks. McKinsey would have found those tools useful but he focused on the hype side of web 2.0 without really knowing what it really was. Mrs Smith tried the tools but they made no sense in her daily job.

Everyone has been thinking of the same things, each one at his level but they didn’t talk to understand each other’s needs ans issues. A difference of language ? Perhaps. But must often they never ever try to discuss.

Obvioulsy, now, they’ve understood and learned for their previous mistakes. They’re not seating together at the same table to know each other better. Mr CIO and Mrs HR are still in their own corner with their own coffee machine. But they know they’ll have to join the other’s table and try their coffee since their old coffee machine is close to stop working for good.

It’s always better to move forward together instead of stagnating alone.

What’s sure is that “enterprise 2.0″ has ended its teenage phase…now he has 24 months become and adult.

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  • http://flowingmotion.wordpress.com Jo

    I enjoyed this. Mr McKinsey, The Geek and Mrs Smith.

    Cool story. I’ll pimp it on twitter.